Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Venezuela accusations against U.S. military attache in spa

Accusations that a group of Venezuelan naval officers were passing secrets to a U.S. military attache threatened to widen an already deep rift between Washington and Venezuelan President &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/12/16/40882.html' target=_blank>Hugo Chavez on Thursday.

Military prosecutors accuse the Venezuelans of cooperating with the U.S. Embassy's naval attache to pass sensitive information to the Pentagon, said Alonso Medina Roa, a lawyer for one of the suspects.

Medina Roa, who represents retired Capt. Jose Ignacio Plaza, told The Associated Press that prosecutors were investigating whether his client and other suspects were "maintaining relations with the naval attache," U.S. Navy Cmdr. John Correa.

He said the men were being investigated for the crime of espionage, but he insisted Plaza is innocent.

Terry Kneebone, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, confirmed Correa is the naval attache at the Embassy, but declined to comment further: "It's stock policy of the U.S. government; we do not talk about intelligence matters."