US diplomat faces spying charges in Bolivia

Criminal charges of espionage have been filed against a US Embassy official accused of asking an American student and Peace Corps volunteers to keep tabs on Venezuela and Cuban workers in the country. Vice Minister of Government Ruben Gamarra, who filed the charges this week, said Thursday that Bolivia may ask the US to provide a statement from the embassy security official, Vincent Cooper. Also on Thursday, the Bolivian Senate said it will form a committee to investigate the charges against Cooper. The charges carry a sentence of 30 years in prison without parole. It was unclear Thursday whether diplomatic immunity would protect him under Bolivian and international law.