A United States diplomat will be expelled from Venezuela within 24 hours for plotting against the government, Vice President Nicholas Maduro has said.
In a live address to the nation on Tuesday, Maduro said the US embassy military official was being expelled from the country for seeking out active Venezuelan military officials to propose "destabilisation projects."
Maduro identified the Amnerican as the Air Force attache and said he had been spying on the military. US Embassy spokesman Greg Adams identified the attache as David Delmonaco.
Maduro also accused Venezuela's "historic enemies" of being behind the cancer of President Hugo Chavez.
"Chavez was attacked with this disease... The historic enemies of this nation looked for how to harm the health of our commander."
He went on to say that a scientific commission will investigate the possibility Chavez's illness was caused by an enemy attack, and that the country is enduring its "most difficult" hours since Chavez underwent cancer surgery three months ago.
Maduro reiterated that Chavez had a "very severe" infection and "complications in his respiratory situation."
Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Caracas, said the speech came after a meeting Maduro held with top government and military officials.
The government announced on Monday night that Chavez was in "very delicate" condition after suffering a new, severe respiratory infection.
Chavez anointed Maduro as his preferred successor before flying to Cuba in early December to undergo a fourth round of surgery for an unspecified cancer in his pelvic area.