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Venezuela expels 'gringo' U.S. journalist accused of spying

  |   June 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM
CARACAS, Venezuela, June 5 (UPI) -- Venezuela Wednesday expelled a U.S. journalist it detained in April and accused of spying.

The journalist -- identified in a government statement as Timothy Tracy Hallet, but as Timothy Hallet Tracy by the Committee to Protect Journalists and other news outlets -- was accused of "creating violence" at the direction of Washington, by paying right-wing protesters to engage in violence following an election to choose a successor to President Hugo Chavez after his death.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said at the time Tracy worked for a U.S. intelligence agency, the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported.

"The gringo Timothy Tracy Hallet caught spying in our country, has been expelled from the country," Torres said Wednesday on a Twitter feed reported by The Christian Science Monitor.

Elsa Cardozo, a professor of international relations at the Central University of Venezuela, told the newspaper the release and expulsion of Tracy may signal a warming of relations between Venezuela and the United States.

"It's a sign of rapprochement," Cardozo said.

The announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua at a general assembly of the Organization of American States in Guatemala, El Universal reported.

Tracy's family said he was in Venezuela to film a documentary and was at Simon Bolivar International Airport, preparing to leave the country, when he was detained.

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