(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK - Venezuela's secret service, SEBIN, is spying on the country's Jewish community, according to leaked documents said to be from the spy agency.
Last week, Analisis24, a right-leaning Argentinean news website, released 50 documents attributed to the Venezuelan intelligence agency containing private information on prominent Venezuelan Jews, local Jewish organizations and Israeli diplomats in Latin America. The Anti-Defamation League, among others, believes the documents are authentic based on the wealth of detailed and private information included.
The papers include a dossier on Espacio Anna Frank, a coexistence group in Caracas, with clandestinely taken photos of its offices and private information on its personnel, including their home addresses, passport numbers and recent travel itineraries. It identifies the organization as a "strategic arm of the Israeli intelligence agency in the country," the Mossad, and as a front for "far right-wing Zionists" to recruit agents using "subversive socio-political influence."
Other documents say the local Jewish community has benefited from the "political and military interference" of the United States in the South American country's affairs and accuses certain Venezuelan Jews, like journalist Abraham Belilty Bittan and former parliamentarian Paulina Gamus, of being foreign agents.
The ADL says the report is deeply troubling and is a further sign of the government of Hugo Chavez's inveterate bias against Jews.
"It is chilling to read reports that the SEBIN received instructions to carry out clandestine surveillance operations against members of the Jewish community, as described in detail in documents leaked by the Argentinean website Analisis24," the ADL said Wednesday in a statement. "In a country where the government and some of its followers have publicly accused the Jewish community of disloyalty and where the community's institutions and houses of worship have been attacked, reports of this kind of surveillance add fuel to an already incendiary atmosphere inciting prejudice and hate."