By Vatican News staff writer
The arrests beginning late on Saturday point to a deepening political crisis in the Central American nation, ahead of an election in November in which 75-year-old Ortega is seeking to extend his 14 year leftist presidency.
Over the past few weeks, a dozen opposition figures have been arrested on orders from Ortega's security apparatus, including four declared presidential rivals.
In statements, the police blamed the detainees for seeking to undermine the country's independence and sovereignty, as well as for "inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, requesting military interventions and organizing with foreign financing."
The latest raids targeted the leadership of the left-wing opposition Unamos party, including its president and a former General.
Unamos is made up of many former Ortega allies like General Hugo Torres, who fought alongside him in the late 1970s as they drove right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza from power.
Just before he was arrested, the 73-year-old Torres uploaded a video in which he denounced Ortega for launching a "second dictatorship" and betraying the values he once championed.
A number of critical journalists have also been questioned by authorities in recent weeks.
Last week, a senior U.S. diplomat denounced what he called a "wave of repression" by Ortega and his allies, and said the United States is prepared to review trade relations with Nicaragua if the upcoming election is not free and fair.
Earlier this month, police placed opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro under house arrest shortly after she announced a presidential run, seeking to end Ortega's three consecutive terms in office.