Venezuela's chief prosecutor said on Monday intelligence officials have threatened and harassed her family since she openly challenged President Nicolas Maduro over the country’s deadly political crisis.
Luisa Ortega, a former ally of Maduro who has turned against him and the ruling Socialist Party, has questioned Maduro's handling of the opposition’s protests in recent weeks. She challenged his plan to rewrite a constitution brought in by late leader Hugo Chavez.
"Somebody is threatening my family," she said in an interview with Union Radio.
"They harass them. They follow them, patrol cars that look like SEBIN," she said, referring to the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
Holding government responsible
She said she would hold the government responsible if her family was harmed.
“I hold the executive responsible for any injury or attack that my family might suffer,” she said during the interview.
“This is a matter that must be resolved with me, not with my family,” she said.
Fanned by anger at triple-digit inflation along with shortages of food and medicine, protests have grown smaller but more violent over the past two months, with at least 67 killed and thousands injured.
Ortega's office said it was investigating the death on Monday of a man called Socrates Salgado, 49, in a coastal town near Caracas. Opposition politicians said he died during a protest.
Challenge to constitution rewrite
Last week, Ortega filed a supreme court challenge against Maduro’s effort to rewrite the constitution, branding it undemocratic.
The court rejected the challenge on Monday.
"The electoral chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice declares that the (challenge) filed by Luisa Ortega Diaz is inadmissible because it is an inept accumulation of pretensions," the court said on Twitter.
In response, Ortega launched another legal challenge, this time claiming that 13 judges appointed to the court in 2015 were put there via an "irregular" process and that they should be replaced.
Maduro says Venezuela is the victim of an "economic war" that he says can only be addressed by a constituent assembly made up of citizens. The council has the power to rewrite the constitution.
The elections council has set an election for the assembly for July 30. The opposition is refusing to participate in the vote, saying it is rigged in favour of the Socialist Party.