A doctor who has worked for more than a decade for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s palace staff is being held by the country’s intelligence agency for allegedly leaking classified information, the government announced today.
Dr. Ana Maria Abreu de San Miguel, 51, was detained last week after the government said she was “linked to the dissemination of confidential information between the year 2010 and 2012,” according to a statement posted on the Venezuelan Public Ministry’s website. The statement did not say exactly what information Abreu had supposedly leaked or to whom but noted that the penalty for revealing political or military secrets could be up to 10 years in prison – more if the information could damage the relationship between Venezuela and another nation.
Abreu has reportedly been an employee of the presidential palace staff for 12 years but did not physically work in the palace and was not Chavez’s personal physician. The government’s statement made no reference to Chavez, who has undergone much-publicized cancer treatment in recent years.
Abreu is a sister-in-law of high-profile Venezuelan activist and government critic Rocio San Miguel. San Miguel told a Venezuelan news outlet he believed the arrest to be government “intimidation” directed at him for his anti-government work.
“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,” one of Abreu’s lawyers, Carlos Nieto, said, according to The Associated Press. Nieto did not say who the recipient of the emails was and if that person worked for a foreign or local organization.
Abreu remains held at a jail run by the country’s Bolivarian National Intelligence Service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.