US expels Venezuelan diplomat over Iran cyber plot
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Last Updated: Monday, January 09, 2012, 22:32
Washington: In a move that will further strain US-Venezuela ties, the State Department has ordered a Venezuelan diplomat in Miami to leave the country by Tuesday for allegedly discussing an Iranian plot to launch cyber- attacks on the US.

The Venezuelan embassy in Washington was notified on Friday that Livia Acosta Noguera, the consul general in Miami, had been declared persona non grata and until Tuesday, had to leave the country, State Department spokesman William Ostick said.

"In accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the department declared Ms Livia Acosta Noguera, Venezuelan consul general to Miami, to be persona non grata. As such, she must depart the United States by January 10," he said.

"We cannot comment on specific details behind the decision to declare Ms Acosta persona non grata at this time," he said in the statement.

Last month a news report had said that Acosta had taken part in discussions about possible cyber attacks against the United States while she was stationed in the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico.

The report, broadcast on Univision, a Spanish-language network, included fragments of what it said were taped conversations with Acosta. In response to the report, several members of Congress called for an investigation and for the expulsion of Acosta if the allegations were proved to be true.

The tough US action comes as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kicked-off a Latin American visit by arriving in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

In Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made no mention of Acosta's expulsion in his radio and TV programme yesterday but accused the US of "inventing" Iranian plots to attack the US from Latin American countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Chavez has long used his ties with Iran as a way to taunt the United States, which he casts as an imperialist aggressor seeking to topple his socialist government.


First Published: Monday, January 09, 2012, 10:20

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