Venezuela's Hugo Chavez Accused of Spying on Jewish Groups

Why Did Secret Service Collect Details on Community Leaders?

Strongman: A supporter flashes tattoo of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
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Strongman: A supporter flashes tattoo of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

By JTA

Published February 05, 2013.
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The Venezuelan human rights group Espacio Anna Frank says its goal is to promote tolerance by teaching the life story of the teenage diarist murdered by the Nazis.

But is there something sinister lurking behind the organization’s benevolent facade?

SEBIN, the Venezuelan intelligence service, seems to believe so.

According to a dossier attributed to SEBIN, the Caracas-based group is actually part of an Israeli cloak-and-dagger operation aimed at undermining the leftist government of President Hugo Chavez.

“We conclude that [Espacio Anna Frank] operates as a strategic arm of the Israeli intelligence in the country … operating in the field of subversive socio-political influence through representatives of far-right Zionist groups and economic elites,” said the 34-page report.

The document, which includes surveillance photographs of the group’s offices and personal details of its board members, goes on to suggest that Espacio Anna Frank poses a security threat and should be kept under surveillance through hidden cameras and listening devices.

The report is part of a massive cache of material obtained by Analises24, an Argentinian media outlet opposed to Chavez, that includes intelligence reports, clandestinely recorded photos and videos and even personal information on Chavez’s family. Nicolas Solano, Analises24’s editor, told JTA that the website received the material from “a former high-ranking SEBIN source.”

On Jan. 22, the website published 50 documents from the cache that focus on Venezuelan Jews, Israel and the Middle East. Many more documents will be released soon.

“This material is absolutely genuine,” Solano told JTA.

Venezuelan officials at the country’s embassy in Washington would not comment on the documents, forwarding an inquiry to Caracas, which has not responded.

But if the documents are indeed authentic, it would confirm what Venezuelan Jews have long suspected: That their own government considers them to be a fifth column and is spying on them.

“As part of the security apparatus of the regime, many Venezuelans are under surveillance,” said Sammy Eppel, a Jewish columnist at the Venezuelan daily El Nacional, a leading opposition newspaper. “The Jewish community is obviously perceived as some sort of threat that warrants those actions.”


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