Venezuelans on edge as Chavez in ‘complex’ situation

Updated 03 January 2013
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Venezuelans on edge as Chavez in ‘complex’ situation

CARACAS, Venezuela: With rumors swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Vice Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that he had met with the president twice, spoken with him and had planned to return to Venezuela yesterday.
Maduro said Chavez faces “a complex and delicate situation.”
But Maduro also said that when he talked with the president and looked at his face, he seemed to have “the same strength as always.”
“All the time we’ve been hoping for his positive evolution. Sometimes he has had light improvements, sometimes stationary situations,” Maduro said in the prerecorded interview, which was broadcast Tuesday night by a TV network.
“I was able to see him twice, converse with him. He’s totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us ... to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances,” Maduro said.
Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the Dec. 11 operation, and officials have reported a series of ups and downs in his recovery — the most recent, on Sunday, announcing that new complications from a respiratory infection had put the president in a “delicate” state.
Speculation has grown since Maduro announced those latest troubles, which were a sharp shift from his remark nearly a week earlier that the president had been up and walking.
In Tuesday’s interview, Maduro did not provide any new details about Chavez’s complications. But he joined other Chavez allies in urging Venezuelans to ignore gossip, saying rumors are being spread due to “the hatred of the enemies of Venezuela.”
Political opponents of Chavez have complained that the government hasn’t told the country nearly enough about his health.
Maduro’s remarks about the president came at the end of an interview in which he praised his government’s programs at length, recalled the history of the Cuban revolution and touched on what he called the long-term strength of Chavez’s socialist Bolivian Revolution movement.
He mentioned that former Cuban President Fidel Castro had been in the hospital, and praised Cuba’s government effusively. “Today we’re together on a single path,” Maduro said.
Before his operation, Chavez acknowledged he faced risks and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election was necessary.


France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

Updated 13 min 56 sec ago
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France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

  • Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,”
  • French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected

PARIS: Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,” a disclosure that has rocked the country’s intelligence services.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who oversees the country’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said Friday that she was not in a position to identify the country which recruited the agents, who were discovered and indicted in December.
“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power,” Parly told CNews television.
“I can’t say much else,” she added.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected.
Parly said the agents were “quite likely” still in service at the time but investigators were still determining how long they had been passing along intelligence.
She also declined to specify the nature of compromised information, nor to reveal if the two agents were working together.
A judicial source told AFP late Thursday that two of the three suspects are being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense.”
“One of them has also been charged for direct incitement to the crime of treason,” the source added.
The third person — believed to be the wife — has been indicted for “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.
The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”