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AFTER deportation, Venezuela's government is silent on Peru spy chief


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ After swiftly arresting and deporting Peru's ex-spy chief, Venezuela's government has gone silent as opposition leaders are demanding to know details of Vladimiro Montesinos' time in Venezuela.

``How is it possible that Montesinos might have been eight months inside Venezuela and nobody know about it?'' asked Julio Borges, congressman for the opposition Justice First party.

Francisco Arias Cardenas, a former ally of President Hugo Chavez who now heads the opposition Union Party, charged that the government ``is protecting international terrorism.''

The charges frustrated Chavez allies who hoped Montesinos' prompt deportation would quell rumors that the government was offering Montesinos safe haven as a sort of payback. Peru _ and Montesinos _ gave asylum to Venezuelan military officers who staged a failed coup in November 1992.

Chavez, as an army paratrooper, had tried to stage his own coup in February 1992.

``It's not fair,'' complained Tarek William Saab, president of the congressional foreign relations commission. ``Chavez acted the way a president committed to democracy should act.''

Montesinos, 55, was deported to Peru on Monday to face charges ranging from bribing politicians to drug trafficking to illegally amassing a personal fortune stashed in banks abroad.

He was arrested in Caracas on Saturday, ending an eight-month chase for man whose alleged acts of corruption led to the downfall of Alberto Fujimori's government last year.

Speculation about Montesinos' presence in Venezuela reached fever pitch when a plastic surgeon said he may have operated on Montesinos in December.

A well-publicized police raid on a central Venezuelan ranch revived the media frenzy months later.

The government has not said when it first learned Montesinos was in Venezuela.

Defense Minister Jose Vicente Rangel offered few details Monday, saying only that Peru put no undue pressure on Venezuela to make an arrest.

Vice Interior Minister Belisario Landis read a terse statement stating that Montesinos was deported. He brushed past reporters asking for more information.

The usually loquacious Chavez took a day off from public view Monday.

In Peru, a U.S. official told The Associated Press that an FBI money laundering investigation in Miami led to the arrest of a Montesinos associate who provided key information about the fugitive, who had been moving from safe house to safe house.

``Too many things remained unexplained,'' opposition newspaper Tal Cual said Monday. ``People will not get it out of their minds that Montesinos was in Venezuela all this time under protection from some authority of our country.''
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