CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan officials said Friday they are releasing 39 jailed activists who government opponents consider to be political prisoners in a gesture aimed at uniting the fractured nation.
Among them are former mayor Daniel Ceballos, who had been detained for four years for promoting protests in the western city of San Cristobal, according to Venezuela's Supreme Court.
President Nicolas Maduro had said after being re-elected in May that he wanted to reconcile the fractured nation.
The Venezuelan "government is greatly ready for a frank, sincere and constructive dialogue," Maduro said in a tweet early Friday before the announcement. "The doors are open for those who choose the path of peace and reconciliation."
The issue of the prisoners has been a sticking point during reconciliation talks, and opposition leader Laidy Gomez said discussions with Maduro a day prior were focused on ending political persecution.
Human rights groups say Venezuela illegally jails hundreds of people.
In a speech after his contested May 20 re-election to a second six-year term, Maduro called for some prisoners to be let go, but ruled out the release of those accused of homicide.
Ceballos, 34, was accused in 2014 of the crimes of rebellion and illegal association to commit wrongful acts, charges rejected by his lawyers, relatives and opponents who considered him a political persecuted.
While released, Ceballos can't leave Venezuela and he's banned from talking to the media or commenting on social media, according to the court.
In May, Maduro's government freed 20 people who were arrested during protests against widespread blackouts and Utah man Joshua Holt, who was jailed nearly two years ago on weapons charges that U.S. officials considered bogus.
But human rights organizations denounce what they call a revolving door, saying officials release some people but detain others.
It's unclear whether officials will release opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who remains detained in his home.
Lopez is a charismatic former mayor from a prominent Venezuelan family. He was accused of inciting massive anti-government street protests and later sentenced to nearly 14 years.
Heavily armed police from Venezuela's intelligence service guard his front door around the clock.
Earlier this week, the man who finished second in the election challenged the president's win before the pro-government Supreme Court, citing deep flaws. Venezuela's leading opposition parties boycotted the vote, and several countries including the United States rejected the results as fraudulent.