Caracas: A man accused by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of helping mastermind anti-government protests in early 2014 committed suicide on Friday in an intelligence service prison, authorities said.
Interior Minister Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez said the body of Rodolfo Gonzalez, 63, had been found in an intelligence service cell and that he apparently had hanged himself.
Gonzalez`s defence attorney, Jose Vicente Haro, told a news agency that Gonzalez hanged himself after becoming "distressed" in recent days when he was told he would be moved from the prison administered by SEBIN, Venezuela`s intelligence service, to a normal prison.
Gonzalez was "distraught over his transfer to an ordinary prison, with highly dangerous inmates," the lawyer said.
He added that Gonzalez, whose case had not yet reached trial, suffered poor health that "did not permit him to live under such conditions."
The Venezuelan attorney general`s office said on its website that it would investigate the circumstances surrounding Gonzalez`s death.
The man`s daughter Lissette Gonzalez confirmed her father`s passing on Twitter.
"We are leaving SEBIN. I regret to confirm that my dad died last night," the university professor said.
She has said the government`s accusations against her father, a former civil aviation pilot, were based on testimony from "citizen volunteers" -- government supporters who leave anonymous tips about anti-government activities.
She also said the accusations brought against him included "criminal associations" with a student and two other people whom he did not know.
His lawyer said Gonzalez "participated in the demonstrations as might any Venezuelan citizen" but denied that he was keeping arms and explosives in his home, as authorities allege.
Two days after Gonzalez`s April arrest, Maduro accused him of being "one of the masterminds" behind the opposition protests that rocked Venezuela in early 2014 and left 43 people dead.
Opposition and human rights organisations have widely denounced arrests made during the protests, including the jailing of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.