Venezuela says captured US ‘spy’ sought to sabotage power grid

Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab holding a photo of bullets he says were seized with other weapons in connection with what the government calls a failed attack during the weekend aimed at overthrowing President Nicolas Maduro.
Photo: Matias Delacroix – AP

 

The suspect, alleged to have CIA ties, had help from three Venezuelan conspirators who were arrested last week.

By Aljazeera

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor on Monday accused a recently arrested US citizen of spying and planning to sabotage oil refineries and electrical service in order to stir unrest and kill innocent people.

The man, alleged to have CIA ties, had help from three Venezuelan conspirators, who were arrested last week near a pair of oil refineries on the north Caribbean coast, Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab said on state television.

The office gave the US suspect’s name as Matthew John Heath.

The prosecutor showed pictures of equipment allegedly seized from the group, including a grenade launcher, plastic explosives, a satellite phone and a bag of US dollars. Authorities said mobile phones taken from the men when they were arrested last week include images of a large bridge in Zulia state and dilapidated oil refineries in Falcon state.

“Everything here could qualify as a lethal weapon designed to cause harm and to promote assassinations, crimes against the people of Venezuela,” said Saab, who also accused the man of planning to open a drug-trafficking route through Venezuela.

President Nicolas Maduro announced on Friday that an unnamed suspected US spy had been captured, saying he was a Marine and former CIA operative in Iraq.

US authorities have not commented on the case. The Associated Press was unable to make immediate contact with Heath, a lawyer or a relative representing him for comment on the accusations.

The arrest surfaced as this nation, once wealthy from oil, has been gripped by a deep petrol shortage that has sparked mile-long lines to fuel up, even in the capital of Caracas.

Venezuela also struggles to provide electricity to residents, especially in Zulia state, once a major hub of the nation’s vast oil production.

Read More: Aljazeera – Venezuela says captured US ‘spy’ sought to sabotage power grid

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