Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Venezuela says captured US spy sought to sabotage power grid

Published:Monday | September 14, 2020 | 2:58 PM
Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro - Contributed photo

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s chief prosecutor on Monday accused a US citizen recently arrested in the Caribbean nation 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 cellphones 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 qualifies 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 Nicolás 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, an attorney or a relative representing him for comment on the accusations.

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