A US citizen accused of plotting sabotage in Venezuela has been charged with terrorism, the country’s top prosecutor said, alleging the man is a “mercenary” with links to the American military and the CIA.
The American, identified as Matthew John Heath, was also charged with trafficking illegal weapons and conspiracy, Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab said in a televised address on Monday.
Heath was arrested last Friday along with six Venezuelan civilians and military personnel, Saab revealed, noting that cellphones taken from the men contained images of suspected targets in Venezuela, including a significant bridge in Zulia state, as well as military installations and an oil refinery in Falcon. Bundles of American cash and a number of weapons were also allegedly seized from the group, including plastic explosives and a grenade launcher.
Saab added that objects found in Heath’s possession indicate he is a “contracted mercenary” for American intelligence.
Everything here could qualify as a lethal weapon designed to cause harm and to promote assassinations, crimes against the people of Venezuela.
The CIA, the State Department, as well as the private military contractor Heath is alleged to have worked for – MVM Inc. – have not yet commented on the case.
The alleged sabotage plot comes after two former US Green Berets and a group of Venezuelan defectors were captured in May as they attempted a raid aimed at capturing the country’s leader, Nicolas Maduro. The two Americans – Airan Berry, 42, and Luke Denman, 34 – have since been sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges that mirror Heath’s, including conspiracy, weapons trafficking and terrorism. Though Washington denied any role in the ill-fated raid, Caracas insists the plot received backing from the Trump administration, which has steadily ramped up a rhetorical and policy offensive against the embattled South American state in recent months.
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