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Venezuelan ex-minister Rodriguez arrested over links to terrorist and US

FORMER Venezuela interior minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres has been captured and “handed over to the justice system,” the communications ministry in Caracas has announced.

Security forces allege that the former leading intelligence official was connected to armed attacks on public institutions last year.

He was apprehended on Tuesday as part of an operation to dismantle “aggressive and violent plans” against the government.

Mr Rodriguez, an army major-general who served under late leader Hugo Chavez as well as current President Nicolas Maduro, was arrested during a hotel event in Caracas organised by female activists from his political movement when he interrupted his speech and left the podium, saying he had “received a notification that requires me to urgently leave.”

He was escorted into the back of a police vehicle and driven away by heavily armed agents from the Sebin intelligence police.

Moments later, Indira Urbaneja, an aide who was also detained at the event, said the two had been taken to the Sebin headquarters before she was released and Mr Rodriguez was taken to another location.

While the reason for the detention was not confirmed, the ex-minister had been linked to Oscar Perez, the leader of an armed opposition cell that staged a series of attacks on government buildings and institutions, including an attack on the Supreme Court of Justice.

Following the attacks, President Maduro said that the former pilot worked for Mr Rodriguez, who is being investigated for ties to the US Drug Enforcement Administration and CIA.

Mr Rodriguez denied any connection with Mr Perez, who was killed during a clash with security forces in January.

A number of officials, including high-level oil executives, have been held on corruption allegations recent months.

In a statement read on state TV, the government said that Mr Rodriguez was being sought by the judiciary for plotting to undermine the military’s chain of command and disturb the peace.

“The criminal actions planned by this gentleman and his accomplices include armed actions and conspiring against our constitution,” said the statement, which demanded that his “treason” be met with “severity.”

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