US expels #Venezuela diplomat over #Iran cyberespionage allegations

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Livia Acosta NogueraBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has ordered the immediate expulsion of the head of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, over allegations that she helped coordinate a cyberattack against US government targets in 2008. The diplomat, Livia Acosta Noguera, was declared “persona non grata” (an unwelcome person) by the US Department of State last Friday, and was given 72 hours to leave the country. State Department officials refused to discuss the reasons for Acosta’s expulsion. But the BBC said that the expulsion order was prompted by a letter sent last month to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by four members of the US Congress. The letter’s authors reportedly raised concerns about a documentary aired in December by Univision, a US-based Spanish-language broadcaster, titled “The Iranian Threat”. According to reports, the documentary alleged that Acosta was part of a multinational team of diplomats from Venezuela, Iran and Cuba, who, while stationed in Mexico in 2008, helped orchestrate a cyberespionage operation against US targets. The alleged operation was aimed at computer servers belonging to the US government computer, including some at the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the White House. Computer servers at several nuclear power plants across the US were also reportedly targeted. The documentary exposé, which later appeared in print in US-based Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald, included allegations that Acosta is in fact a member of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, Venezuela’s foremost external intelligence agency. The allegations were refuted by several diplomats, including the Iranian ambassador in Mexico; but the US State Department reportedly decided to order the Venezuelan diplomat’s expulsion after consulting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. News agency UPI reported on Monday that Acosta appeared to have left the country by Sunday afternoon, and that the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was closed. The agency contacted the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, about Acosta, and was told that a statement about the expulsion would be issued by the Venezuelan government in Caracas. But Venezuela had not published a statement as of late Monday night.

via US expels Venezuelan diplomat over cyberespionage allegations.

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