Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

US expels Venezuelan envoy over cyber-attack claims

The Obama administration is expelling Venezuela's consul-general in Miami over claims she discussed possible cyber-attacks on US soil while at her country's embassy in Mexico.



The State Department said yesterday that it had declared the diplomat, Livia Acosta Noguera, to be no longer welcome in America.



Spokesman Mark Toner said the Venezuelan government was notified of the decision on Friday, giving her 72 hours to depart under standard diplomatic procedure,



There was no immediate reaction from the Venezuelan government.



Toner would not discuss the reason for the expulsion, but said it was done in accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. That article does not require the expelling state to explain its decision.



The move follows an FBI investigation into allegations contained in a documentary aired by the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision last month. According to the documentary, "The Iranian threat," Acosta discussed a possible cyber-attack against the US government when she was previously assigned as a diplomat in the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico.



The documentary was based on recordings of conversations with her and other officials, and also alleged that Cuban and Iranian diplomatic missions were involved. Citing audio and video obtained by the students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Univision said Acosta was seeking information about the servers of nuclear power plants in the US



After the documentary aired, the State Department said the allegations were "very disturbing" and officials said the FBI had opened an investigation into the matter.

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