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UPDATE 1-Venezuela grants house arrest to PDVSA managers convicted of leaking information

(Updates with comments from defense attorney)

CARACAS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Venezuela on Wednesday granted house arrest to two managers at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela who were convicted on charges of divulging confidential information, their defense attorney said in a telephone interview.

Aryenis Torrealba and Alfredo Chirinos, from PDVSA’s supply and trading department, were sentenced to five years in prison just last week. They were arrested in February 2020 on allegations of leaking information to the U.S. government, which in 2019 sanctioned PDVSA to try to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Antonio Molina, Torrealba’s and Chirinos’ defense attorney, said the two had arrived home with their families and that he would continue to advocate for reversing the sentence.

“Justice is being done in this case,” Molina said, noting that earlier charges against Torrealba and Chirinos, including terrorism, were dropped.

The office of Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, which announced the sentence last week, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Earlier on Wednesday, relatives of Torrealba and Chirinos issued a statement thanking “the relevant authorities who made good on this right we had clamored for.

“We call on the national and international community to accompany us in the cause and not rest until we achieve the full freedom of our unjustly sentenced comrades,” the committee’s statement read.

Torrealba’s and Chirinos’ relatives have said the two are innocent and were being singled out for speaking out against corruption within PDVSA.

The OPEC nation’s oil output has collapsed to less than 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from more than 2 million bpd when Maduro took office in 2013, due to years of underinvestment and mismanagement and, more recently, the sanctions. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas Additional reporting and writing by Luc Cohen in New York Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)

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