Venezuela tight lipped on alleged Colombian spies

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday that his nation will provide information on the case of eight Colombians detained by Venezuela for espionage  “when we have something to say.”

“As soon as we confirm the information or have more details, we will provide the information to the public,” Maduro said.

Reports orginially indicated that three Colombians had been detained and accused of espionage, after one took a photo of a Venezuelan military telecommunications tower while vacationing in the Venezuelan state of Maracay.

Bogota publication El Tiempo now reports that eight Colombians – family members who own an ice cream factory in the Venezuelan state of Barinas – have been detained.

A Venezuelan army search of the business’ premises turned up Colombian military identity cards belonging to two of those arrested.

According the family of detained Canadian-Colombian doctor Luis Carlos Cossio, who took the photo, the duel citizen is an avid photographer, and while he worked for a time as a doctor in the Colombian army, he is not a spy.

Two of the family members are believed to have been moved to Bogota, while the other six remain in Barinas.

Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Colombia, after the Andean nation signed a controversial pact with the U.S. which grants the Americans access to seven Colombian military bases. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that the pact is part of a scheme by the U.S. to undermine sovereignty in the region.

Following a public verbal spat between Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Mexico, moves have been made to repair severed relations between the neighbor nations.

However Caracas has stated that Venezuela will not repair ties will Uribe remains in power.

Colombian presidential elections will be held in May. Despite a history of strained tensions with Venezuela, former defense minister and presidential candidate favorite Juan Manuel Santos said Wednesday that if elected he will attempt to maintain the best relations possible with Venezuela.

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