CARACAS -- Venezuela has released political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez to house arrest according to the nation's Supreme Court and Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez has left Ramo Verde military prison.
Lopez, who has been detained since February of 2014, was released Saturday morning and has been placed under house arrest.
In a statement, Venezuela's Supreme Court said that Lopez was released for health reasons and "indications of serious irregularities" in the proceedings related to the case.
The new measure - house arrest - coincides with three months of intense protests against the regime of Nicolas Maduro in which 89 people have died.
López, leader of the Popular Will (VP) party and former Mayor of the upscale municipality of Chacao in east Caracas, arrived at his house at 4:00 am local time.
His release came as a surprise.
On several occasions he had expressed, through his wife, Lilian Tintori, that the condition to leave the prison was the departure of all political prisoners.
López, who had been imprisoned without bail since February 18, 2014 when he voluntarily surrendered to the government, was sentenced in September 2015 to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in jail, to be served at Ramo Verde military prison.
Judge Susana Barreiros found Lopez guilty of instigating the 2014 demonstrations against the Maduro regime, which killed 43 people and injured hundreds, based on "subliminal instructions."
A month later, Franklin Nieves, a prosecutor in that case, fled to the United States seeking asylum confessing that the Lopez trial and evidence was all a sham and a "farce."
NATION AND WORLDWIDE REACTION
The move opens up a window for "national reconciliation" and brings Venezuela closer to a democratic exit from its "serious crisis," Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) said via twitter.
"House arrest of Leopoldo Lopez is attempt of dictator Maduro to calm Venezuela streets and not Justice. There are more prisoners," tweeted U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has been on the vanguard of Venezuela issues in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Venezuelans meanwhile began massing in front of Lopez's house, eager to hear from the political leader.
As National Assemblyman Freddy Guevara, who is also First Vice President of the National Assembly and a spokesperson for Leopoldo, was speaking, a smiling Lopez emerged on the roof of the house where he serving the remainder of his 14 year sentence to wave to the gathered crowds.
Lopez held and unfurled a Venezuelan flag, bringing it to his lips to embrace it and holding up his fist in defiance.
Although the terms of his confinement are not yet known, usually they include not being able to speak to the press or crowds.
Con ponencia del Mag. Maikel Moreno, Sala Penal del TSJ otorga casa por cárcel a Leopoldo López por problemas de salud