Venezuela presidential palace doctor, sister of activist, arrested

3 Jul

An employee of Venezuela’s presidential palace has been arrested and is accused of spreading confidential information, prosecutors said Monday.

Dr. Ana Maria Abreu was detained under a court order last week, the Public Ministry said in a statement. It said the doctor has worked in the presidential palace for 12 years during President Hugo Chavez’s government and had been providing medical care to storm evacuees and other needy people.

It was unclear what sort of information the doctor is accused of releasing.

The Public Ministry said only that she had been “linked to the dissemination of confidential information between the year 2010 and 2012.” But it noted that under Venezuelan law revealing “political or military secrets concerning the security of Venezuela” is punishable by seven to 10 years in prison.

Abreu is a sister-in-law of Venezuelan activist Rocio San Miguel, a government critic who leads an organization that monitors security and defense issues.

San Miguel told the Venezuelan television channel Globovision that the case has a “political tint” and appears to be retaliation against Abreu for being her relative.

Carlos Nieto, one of Abreu’s lawyers, denied the accusations and said the case had been trumped up in order to go after San Miguel.

“The only element they base it on is that there are three emails that say absolutely nothing, and in which there is information that can be found by simply going on the Internet to look,” Nieto said.

He declined to provide more details, saying he is barred from discussing details of the case.

Abreu is to remain jailed in the headquarters of the country’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service while her case goes to court. Prosecutors said she was detained in a raid on her apartment Friday.

Nieto, also an activist who monitors the rights of prison inmates, accused authorities of violating Abreu’s rights by detaining her without a proper order and by keeping her from contacting her family or lawyers for nearly two days after her arrest.

Ventura County Star.

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