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U.S. Filmmaker Held In Venezuela

Venezuela has detained an American filmmaker, accusing him of "creating violence" at the behest of the U.S. government.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said Timothy Hallet Tracy was paying right-wing youth to hold violent protests in the aftermath of the elections narrowly won by Nicolas Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez's chosen successor. Torres said Tracy worked for a U.S. intelligence agency. His comments were reported by the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias.

The Associated Press reports, meanwhile, that Maduro claimed he personally had ordered the 35-year-old Tracy's arrest. Here's more from the AP:

"Tracy's friends and family told The Associated Press that he had been in Venezuela since last year making a documentary about the confrontation between the opposition and a socialist government that is struggling to maintain its once-high popularity after the death of charismatic President Hugo Chavez.

"The Georgetown University English graduate had directed or produced at least two previous documentaries, the 2009 American Harmony, about competitive barbershop quartet singing, and the recent Discovery Channel program Under Siege, about terrorism and smuggling across the U.S./Canada border."

He'd been detained twice before by the country's intelligence police, the AP reported. His family said police had been friendly to him during those times. Tracy's family said he was in Venezuela making a documentary, and is apolitical.

Aengus James, a friend of Tracy's in Hollywood, Calif., told the news agency: "They don't have CIA in custody. They don't have a journalist in custody. They have a kid with a camera. He does not really know what he's doing."

As we reported earlier this month, Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles in the April 14 election. The close margin of victory is fueling instability in the country.

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