Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez suspects US plot as navy officer is detained
Published 13/09/2008 | 08:55
Venezuelan authorities have detained a high-ranking navy officer on suspicion of involvement in a purported plot to overthrow President Hugo Chavez.
Mr Chavez insisted the United States was behind the conspiracy and predicted the "plans of the empire, the CIA ... trying to topple the government are going to continue".
Authorities detained Venezuelan Vice Admiral Carlos Millan and turned him over to military prosecutors, Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami told state television.
He said Mr Millan is the fifth detained in a group of current and former officers.
The government has released what it says are recordings of the suspects discussing plans for deposing Mr Chavez.
Mr Chavez also denied US government accusations that three members of his inner circle had aided Colombian rebels by supplying arms and facilitating drug trafficking. He called the accusations "completely absurd".
Mr Chavez defended former justice minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin saying he was responsible for rescuing hostages held by Colombian rebels, at times "risking his own life".
He denied that Venezuelan officials had aided drug trafficking or terrorism, saying "it's them (the Americans) who support these activities of terrorism.
"They're the ones who give millions of dollars to terrorist groups in Venezuela, in Ecuador in Bolivia," Mr Chavez said, apparently referring to US aid to opposition-leaning nongovernment organisations.
Mr Chavez said he made a "necessary" move in expelling the US ambassador in solidarity with Bolivia, whose president expelled the US envoy accusing him of inciting protests. But he said the diplomatic sparring shouldn't affect US-Venezuela trade or travel between the countries, "unless the United States government decides to have it affect them".
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