Venezuela prosecutor to open probe over leaked recording
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's prosecutor's office said on Thursday it would open an investigation into in a recording the opposition says features a top government ally accusing the deputy head of the ruling Socialist Party of corruption and conspiring against the new president.
Opposition deputies on Monday broadcast the recording of a conversation they said was between powerful state television commentator Mario Silva and a Cuban intelligence agent and later requested an investigation of it.
The man identified as Silva in the recording accused Diosdado Cabello, Congress chief and vice president of the ruling Socialist Party, of conspiring against President Nicolas Maduro and of illegally appropriating dollars through the country's currency control system.
"I have requested that an investigation be opened over the alleged recording of Mario Silva," chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega said via her Twitter account.
Ortega could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm her remarks or to explain the extent of the planned investigation.
Her announcement came hours after opposition deputies asked state prosecutors to investigate the accusations made in the recording.
Silva - whose close relationship with late President Hugo Chavez led many to see him as more powerful than some cabinet ministers - denies having made the accusations, saying U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies manipulated recordings of his voice.
In the recording, the man identified as Silva says he received rifles from the ministry of defense for his own protection. He also questioned the results of last April's election, suggesting hackers had infiltrated the voting system to lower Maduro's margin of victory.
The person in the recording leveled accusations against a range of top officials, including First Lady Cilia Flores, Defense Minister Diego Molero, and Vice President Jorge Arreaza.
Opposition leaders called the recording evidence both of corruption and of a fierce power struggle at the top echelons of the ruling party following the death of Chavez in March.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Brian Ellsworth and David Brunnstrom)
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