January 30, 2006

Stop spying, we’re watching, Chavez tells US envoy

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez warned the U.S. ambassador against spying on Monday and
said his agents had infiltrated the U.S. embassy, which he has
accused of links to espionage.

Venezuela last week accused U.S. embassy officials of
contacting military officers to get access to state secrets for
the Pentagon, the latest test of relations between Washington
and Chavez, a fierce U.S. critic who wants to bring socialist
revolution to the world's fifth-largest oil exporter.

"I recommend to the U.S. embassy that they stop spying, we
have you infiltrated, ambassador. Don't move around too much
because we are watching you," Chavez said at a business event.

"The U.S. military officials in the embassy are spying and
we've got them infiltrated. We even know where they eat their
'arepas reina pepeada' that those gringos love," Chavez said
referring to a traditional Venezuelan fried cornmeal cake.

U.S. embassy representatives say they have not been
contacted on the issue and have no details on any charges.

Washington has repeatedly denied Chavez's accusations that
it is working with his opponents to orchestrate his ouster. But
they say the former soldier, whose closest ally is Cuban
President Fidel Castro, has become an authoritarian menace to
Venezuelan democracy and a threat to regional stability.

Military authorities have so far not confirmed any arrests
in the alleged passing of secrets, or said how many military
officers are involved in the case.

Chavez on Friday threatened to arrest U.S. Embassy staff
caught spying.