The US State Department blacklisted Chief Justice Maikel Moreno, along with his wife, over accusations of corruption on Tuesday. The new sanctions will bar them from traveling to the United States.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement accused Moreno of receiving bribes in over 20 criminal and civil court cases in order to influence their outcome. Pompeo did not offer any evidence.
Moreno has rejected the accusation, saying the US administration — which aims to topple the Venezuelan government — is using lies to undermine him.
“This is not the first time that the mouthpieces of the North American empire seek to attack me with their clumsy attacks, full of manipulations and lies,” Moreno said. “They will never succeed because the independence and sovereignty of our homeland is not up for discussion.”
Moreno and seven other members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court had been blacklisted by the US in May 2017 for annulling the opposition-led congress in the country earlier that year.
The United States has over the past years imposed harsh economic sanctions on Venezuela to pressure the country’s President Nicolas Maduro to step down.
In March, the US administration indicted Maduro and more than a dozen other senior Venezuelan officials on allegations of “narco-terrorism” in the latest escalation of the long-running pressure campaign against Caracas.
Venezuela was shaken by political turmoil in January last year, when opposition politician Juan Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president” of the country. Washington quickly offered him support and later helped him launch an abortive coup against the Venezuelan government.
Caracas has accused Washington of openly pushing for regime change in the oil-rich Latin American country by confiscating its state oil assets based in the US and channeling them to Guaido.
Maduro, however, has remained in power, with the army refusing to side with Guaido.