Venezuela demanded the United States Thursday release the names of agents within Washington's Caracas Embassy that have engaged in what they described as “grave violations of international law.”
“Venezuela requires … the identity of the agents involved in this unprecedented, unacceptable act,” Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The demand was issued just minutes after U.S. Department of State spokesperson John Kirby claimed Washington “has no interest or intent to destabilize the Venezuelan government.”
Speaking to reporters in Washington, DC, Kirby claimed U.S. espionage is never aimed at benefiting U.S. corporations.
“That’s U.S. policy,” he said. “There’s no intent to use electronic surveillance to benefit commercial gains. That’s not changed.”
Kirby also said that while the U.S. government “regularly reviews our policies for electronic surveillance,” it does not “comment publicly about all that.” He added that “Our government will respond through diplomatic channels.”
In response, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said it was, “awaiting responsible, corrective explanation from the U.S. government in regard to these grave violations of international law.”
The deepening diplomatic row between Washington and Caracas exploded Wednesday, after revelations U.S. intelligence agents had posed as diplomats in the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela. The agents were involved in espionage targeting Venezuela's state oil firm PDVSA. The revelations were uncovered by a joint investigation between teleSUR and The Intercept.
Classified documents obtained by the two news organizations also showed the U.S. National Security Agency had infiltrated PDVSA's internal communications network, and was spying on top company figures.
President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the U.S. spying on PDVSA, telling teleSUR’s Madelein Garcia that his government would write a protest message and “revise our relationship with the U.S. again.”
“U.S. imperialism, for a long time, has wanted to sabotage our petroleum industry and defeat the Bolivarian government in order to take over Venezuela’s petroleum,” Maduro said later on the public television station VTV.
He instructed the country’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez to meet with the U.S. government, emphasizing that no country “has the right to intervene in the affairs of other countries.” He said he wanted her to demand an apology from the U.S. for the magnitude of their illegal actions.
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