An ‘American airplane pilot’ with ‘Latino roots’ has been detained by Venezuela’s government, accusing of spying and recruiting citizens to stage a coup, President Nicolas Maduro declared.
The President said the pilot, who has not been named, was part of a group of six U.S. nationals arrested in the state of Táchira, near the Colombian border, in the last few days.
Addressing a rally on Saturday, Maduro said the man had ‘documentation’ that suggested he was involved in ‘espionage’ and ‘recruitment’.
It comes after four missionaries were questioned over alleged ‘spying’ after running a medical assistance campaign in the coastal town of Ocumare de la Costa.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Caracas said he was unable to comment, citing a lack of any official diplomatic communication with the Venezuelan government.
Maduro, Hugo Chavez’s left wing successor, has waged a bitter war of words against the U.S. in recent weeks.
Last week he accused the White House – which he dubbed ‘arrogant Yankees’ – of trying to overthrow him. The Obama administration vehemently denied the charge.
In his latest attack, Maduro said his government will prohibit some U.S. officials from entering Venezuela in retaliation for a similar measure by the government of President Barack Obama against a group of Venezuelan public officials.
He said U.S. tourists will also be subject to hefty visa fees – akin to those Venezuelans must pay to visit America.