An exiled Nicaraguan bishop appeared to challenge Pope Francis Sunday, after the pontiff appealed for an “open and sincere dialogue” with the government of President Daniel Ortega about the recent imprisonment of another Catholic prelate.

“It is necessary to ask for freedom. We must not negotiate with the person [Ortega]. We must ask for freedom, because they are innocent,” said Bishop Silivio Báez in a Mass celebrated in Miami and broadcast through his social networks.

Báez was calling for the freedom of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, recently arrested, along with several of his companions, on charges of trying to “organize violent groups.” Prior to his house arrest at a family home in Managua, Álvarez, together with several priests, seminarians and laity, had been banned from leaving the curia of Matagalpa, the diocese he leads.

An auxiliary bishop of Managua, Báez left Nicaragua in 2019 at Pope Francis’s request following a series of death threats against him and his family. He has long been one of the loudest voices in opposing the Ortega regime, which reportedly killed over 350 protesters in 2018 and currently has 190 leaders of the opposition in prison, cut off from their families.