Venezuelan Diplomat Expelled from Miami For Role in Alleged Cyber Plot Against US Nukes

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Does Hugo Chavez have U.S. nuclear launch codes?
​The United States government has expelled a Venezuelan diplomat based in Miami in a bizarre story seemingly ripped straight from "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," complete with secret agents, computer hackers, and endangered nukes.

U.S. officials haven't said why they are booting Livia Acosta Noguera, Venezuela's consul general in Miami. But the decision comes just after Univisión aired an audio tape in which Acosta apparently asked a Mexican computer hacker for the access codes to nuclear facilities in the U.S.

"You should also give me that [...] to send it to the president," Acosta said according to the Univisión report, which focused on Iran's influence in Latin America. Coincidentally, Hugo Chávez is currently hosting Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas.

In his "Alo Presidente" television show yesterday, Chávez didn't discuss Acosta's expulsion but he did dismiss the claims about a Venezuela/Mexico/Iran/Cuba plot.

"You have to look at [the allegations] carefully," he said. "Because it's a threat against us."

Univisión's original report also included documents showing that Acosta was paid by a Venezuelan intelligence agency.

The Spanish-language television station devoted one part of its documentary, "The Iranian Threat," to an alleged Venezuelan plot to hack into The White House, FBI, Pentagon, and several nuclear bases.

From 2006 to 2010, Venezuelan officials including Acosta -- who was a cultural attaché in Mexico at the time -- approached students at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to help in the plot, Univisión reported.

But some of the students were uneasy with the idea and began secretly recording the conversations, including the one in which Acosta allegedly asked for codes to U.S. nukes.

"I want to emphasize, what you gave me, the last thing... the president already saw it," Acosta said during one conversation. In another, she said the hacked data was passed from Acosta to Chávez by the head of his personal security.

This all means that Chávez could be handing over American nuclear codes to Iran at this very moment.

Or not. As with watching "Mission Impossible," it's going to take a couple of weeks to figure out what actually happened.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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