Venezuela Says U.S. Citizen Plotted Unrest

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CARACAS, Venezuela -- An American citizen has been arrested by Venezuelan authorities who said Thursday that he had been taken into custody because he was involved in a plot to destabilize the country after the recent presidential election.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez identified the man as Timothy Hallett, 35, and said he had been trained as a spy and was connected to what Mr. Rodríguez called right-wing groups seeking to provoke violence.

"The mission was to bring us to a civil war," Mr. Rodríguez said, according to the government news agency, AVN.

Officials with the United States Embassy in Caracas said they could not discuss the case because of privacy issues.

Mr. Hallett had been in Caracas working on a film, The Associated Press reported. It said his father, Emmet Hallett, of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., had urged his son to leave the country because of the political situation.

Mr. Hallett was arrested by the intelligence police on Wednesday at the Caracas airport as he was about to leave the country, according to a statement from the Venezuelan government, which said that a search of an apartment where he had stayed found videos and photographs.

Mr. Rodríguez said that Mr. Hallett had become close to a group of students involved in protests of the election results and that he had received money from nongovernmental groups and passed it on to the students.

Tensions have been high in Venezuela since the April 14 vote, in which Nicolás Maduro was elected president. Mr. Maduro is the handpicked political heir of former President Hugo Chávez, who dominated the country's politics for 14 years before his cancer-related death in March.

Mr. Maduro won by less than 2 percent of the vote over the opposition leader, Henrique Capriles Radonski. But Mr. Capriles claimed he was the real winner and accused Mr. Maduro of stealing the election. He has called for a review of records from the electronic vote.

María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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