Maria Corina Machado
A Venezuelan judge has ruled that the leaders of a non-profit group must be tried for allegedly conspiring to change the government using U.S. funds.

Maria Corina Machado and three other members of the group, Sumate, helped organize the unsuccessful recall referendum against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year.

Sumate received a $31,000 grant from the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization which promotes democracy worldwide and is funded by the U.S. Congress.

Sumate says the money was used to educate citizens about their electoral rights. The judicial action comes more than a month after Ms. Machado met with President Bush at the White House.

State Department spokesman Thomas Casey says the United States is very disappointed over the legal action against the Sumate members and that the charges against them are, "without merit."

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.