World Bulletin / News Desk
France's hard-left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon on Thursday demanded that Venezuela release two French journalists held for alleged drug possession since April 11.
The pair are in custody "under the pretext that they had drugs on them, which I don't believe," Melenchon said on French radio.
"I've been asked to speak up, and I do so solemnly," said the Communist-backed candidate, who is enjoying a late surge in the polls ahead of the first round of the election on Sunday.
The reporters travelled to Venezuela for the CAPA news agency, whose director Philippe Levasseur declined to comment on their detention, telling AFP he did not want to undermine efforts to free them.
Melenchon, a staunch critic of outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande's neo-liberal policies, is an admirer of Venezuela's late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.
Eight people have been killed and several hundred arrested in clashes between protesters and security forces in the past three weeks.
"I condemn all state violence, whether it is in Venezuela, in Bahrain or elsewhere," Melenchon said.
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Just 40,000 people live on Canvey Island in Essex, a 40-minute train ride from London but a world apart from the British capital.