Venezuela court formally charges US filmmaker
Venezuela has formally lodged criminal charges against an American filmmaker claiming to be working on a documentary, but whom Caracas accused of fomenting post-election unrest in the country.
A court in Caracas said in a statement late Saturday that Timothy Tracy had formally received charges including criminal conspiracy, making false statements and using a false document.
Tracy was detained Wednesday at an airport near Caracas as he tried to leave the country, according to Venezuelan officials, who also released pictures of him.
According to media reports, Tracy is a 35-year-old filmmaker based in Hollywood who has been working on a documentary since last year.
His attorney Gloria Stifano said his work "has nothing to do with state security."
"They are films about individual and personal stories with the aim of understanding... the psychological effects of division between people," Stifano told Globovision television, referring to the deep political rifts among the Venezuelan people before and since the presidential election two weeks ago.
She said Tracy's work required that he interact with people of various political persuasions, but that "he was not a young man who was operating undercover."
He was even given credentials to observe this month's presidential election, according to Stifano.
The United States after his arrest last week also denied Venezuela's allegations that Tracy was a spy.
"We are aware of the arrest of a US citizen in Caracas... Because of privacy considerations, we're unable to comment on the specific case further at this time," said State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell.
"The US continues to categorically reject any allegations of US government efforts to destabilize the Venezuelan government or to harm anyone in Venezuela."
Movie industry website IMDb lists Tracy as the producer of three film and TV projects, the most recent of which was "Angry White Man" in 2011. He also has five acting credits. No current project is listed.
Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres alleged that the American is linked to a protest movement known as "Operation Sovereignty," in which demonstrators pressed for more information about the health of Chavez prior to his death last month.
Tracy, who officials said was born in the midwestern US state of Michigan in 1978, "began to have close relations with these youths from Operation Sovereignty," Rodriguez said told reporters.
The United States and Venezuela have not had respective ambassadors since 2010. Chavez and his newly-elected successor Nicolas Maduro regularly accused Washington of attempting to destabilize the oil-rich country.
Earlier this month, Maduro accused two ex-US ambassadors of fomenting a plot to assassinate him before the April 14 election. A month earlier, two US military attaches were expelled, accused of conspiring against the government.