CARACAS - US officials will be allowed access on Wednesday to an American citizen arrested in Venezuela on suspicion of being a mercenary, President Hugo Chavez said.
Clearly implying a plot was afoot less than two months before a presidential election, the socialist leader has said the man was detained entering illegally from Colombia a week ago and sought to destroy some coordinates in a notebook at the time.
Foes have scoffed at Chavez's statements, saying it is typical of him to invent tales of US-backed aggression against him at election time. Washington has given no information on the case but requested that diplomats have contact with the man.
"Of course we have authorized it," Chavez told reporters. "Tomorrow they will have contact with the detainee."
Though there have been constant diplomatic flare-ups between Washington and Caracas since the ferociously "anti-imperialist" Chavez took power in 1999, the latest incident does not appear to be mushrooming into a major dispute.