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Venezuela: Arrested US Pilot Was Spying

This Venezuelan government photo shows President Nicolas Maduro waving a flag to celebrate the anniversary of the "Caracazo" revolutionary uprising; in a speech at the rally, he announced the arrest of a U.S. pilot for alleged spying, Feb. 28, 2015.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told a rally Saturday that his government had arrested a U.S. pilot for alleged spying.

Maduro said the American was captured in the state of Tachira along with what he described as "all kinds of documentation." He said the pilot was of Latin origin, but he gave no other details, including whether the man was a commercial, military or private pilot.

The U.S. Embassy had no immediate comment.

Also Saturday, Venezuelan authorities freed four U.S. missionaries who were questioned about alleged spying. They left the country.

Maduro also announced that U.S. tourists would now need visas to travel to Venezuela.

Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, have consistently accused the United States of plotting to topple their socialist governments, but they have never given any evidence.

The president ordered the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an opposition leader, last month, accusing him of planning a coup with U.S. backing.

The White House called the charges "ludicrous" and said the president has to stop blaming others for the country's grave situation.

Maduro is facing numerous challenges in Venezuela, including a shrinking economy, an unhappy electorate, and shortages of basic foods and household products.

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