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Published: Friday July 25, 2014 MYT 2:30:04 AM
Updated: Friday July 25, 2014 MYT 2:31:23 AM

Venezuela says ex-intelligence head arrested in Aruba

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's former military intelligence chief, accused of involvement in drug trafficking by the United States, was arrested on a Caribbean island while on diplomatic business, the South American country said in a sternly worded statement on Thursday.

"The government rejects the illegal and arbitrary detention of the Venezuelan diplomatic official," said the foreign ministry statement announcing the arrest of Hugo Carvajal on the nearby island of Aruba.

According to local media, Venezuela had been trying to accredit Carvajal as consul to its diplomatic mission on Aruba, a former Dutch colony which now has autonomy but remains part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Venezuela blamed Dutch authorities for the arrest of Carvajal, who ran military intelligence between 2004 and 2009 during the government of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Local media said Carvajal was arrested on Wednesday night and was due to be flown to the United States, where he is wanted on suspicion of drug crimes and helping Colombia's Marxist FARC guerrillas.

"Venezuela has activated all diplomatic mechanisms to correct this grave violation of international law," the statement said, calling on the Netherlands to free Carvajal or face a "deterioration" in relations.

Neither U.S. nor Dutch diplomats in Caracas could be immediately contacted for further information or comment on the case. Thursday was a national holiday in Venezuela.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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