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No access to man held in Venezuela 'nightmare'

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:45 p.m.

CARACAS — U.S. diplomats have been given no access to a California man held in Venezuela for nearly two weeks in what his family on Monday called a “nightmare” that unfolded because he was accused of being a spy fomenting postelection unrest.

The family of Timothy Tracy, 35, told The Associated Press in a statement that “we hope that he is granted consular access very soon.”

The State Department confirmed that diplomats have not been allowed to see Tracy, who is held by the Venezuelan intelligence service. It is standard practice for countries holding foreign citizens to allow diplomats to see them to confirm that they are being treated humanely, and help them negotiate the local court system.

Tracy's family says he is a filmmaker who had been making a documentary about Venezuelan politics for six months. Tracy's friends said he had been briefly detained by Venezuelan authorities twice before but decided to continue his work.

“We have been living in a nightmare,” the family said in the emailed statement. “We have been in communication with Timmy and have been assured that he is being treated well.”

Venezuelan officials allege Tracy was working on behalf of U.S. intelligence and paid young protesters to participate in violent demonstrations against the ruling party, which narrowly won the April 14 presidential election. The opposition is contesting the results because it says President Nicolas Maduro won by fraud.

President Obama has said that the accusations against Tracy are “ridiculous.”

Tensions have been running high in Venezuela since the election.

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