A Nicaraguan court on Monday ordered an opposition politician held in preventive custody for three months on "provocation" allegations, days after another challenger of President Daniel Ortega in November elections was placed under house arrest.
The prosecutor's office said in a statement that it had asked the court for time to investigate allegations against Arturo Cruz for "the crime of provocation ... and conspiracy to commit harm to national integrity."
It sought preventive custody as Cruz might "obstruct" the investigation, the office said in a statement.
Cruz, a 67-year-old former diplomat and academic, was arrested on Saturday — the second presidential hopeful to be detained in less than a week. He was seized at the Managua airport upon return from the United States three days after another opposition figure, Cristiana Chamorro, was placed under house arrest on government allegations of money laundering.
Both intend to run in presidential elections which Ortega is widely expected to contest, though he has not said so. Chamorro is polled to be a favorite to beat Ortega. The United States has called for both candidates to be released without delay.
Last month, Nicaragua's legislature appointed a majority of governing party-aligned magistrates to the election body that will oversee the elections. It has since disqualified two parties.
In December, the legislature approved a law critics say is aimed at preventing opposition politicians from standing in the election. Sponsored by leftist Ortega, it bars "those who ask for, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state." Ortega, an ex-guerrilla who governed from 1979 to 1990, returned to power in 2007 and won two successive re-elections.