Chavez: Venezuela Holding 4 U.S. Spies
Venezuela Says 4 U.S. Spies Held; Embassy Spokesman Has 'No Idea' What Chavez Is Talking About

(Gold9472: If true, is this a reason to strike Venezuela?)

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela has caught four people spying for the American government, but a U.S. embassy spokesman said Saturday that he had "no idea what the president is talking about."

Without offering specifics, Chavez said that one woman was caught not long ago while taking photos in the north-central city of Valencia.

"I've caught four of their spies, four, and I've put them back in their hands," Chavez told a campaign rally in western Venezuela Friday night.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Brian Penn said Saturday that more than a year ago, a clerical official working in a military office at the embassy had her purse stolen in Valencia and that inside it was a disposable camera.

The woman, who was on a temporary assignment in Venezuela and eventually moved on to other duties, was never detained or formally accused of spying, Penn said.

Chavez consistently accuses the U.S. of conspiring to oust him and often asserts the CIA is working to destabilize his government. Last year he ordered one U.S.-based missionary group out of Indian communities where they worked, accusing them of spying for the CIA.

In his latest comments, Chavez apparently was counting among the four a naval attache at the U.S. Embassy whom he accused of spying in February and ordered out of the country. The U.S. government responded to that move by expelling a Venezuelan diplomat from Washington.