US expels diplomat for plotting cyber war

The State Department has confirmed that it is expelling Venezuela’s consul general in Miami for allegedly discussing cyber attacks against the US while stationed in Mexico. 

Livia Acosta Noguera was given until Tuesday to pack her bags and leave the country.

According to The Guardian, Noguera was officially expelled in accordance with article 23 of the Vienna convention on consular relations – which does not require the state to explain its decisions.

Noguera’s rather unceremonious expulsion comes just weeks after the Spanish-language Univision aired a documentary (“The Iranian Threat”) claiming that Acosta explored various aspects of cyber warfare – including targeting nuclear power plants – while working as a diplomat in the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico.

“This is the appropriate step to take against the Venezuelan general consul in Miami and highlights the threat posed by Iranian influence in Latin America,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

“This administration must be more proactive and engaged against the serious threat of Iranian activity in the region and this is a first step in that direction.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, called for a series of hearings about Iranian activities in Latin America.

“If Iran is using regional actors to facilitate and direct activities against the United States, this would represent a substantial increase in the level of the Iranian threat and would necessitate an immediate response.”

An aide to Menendez added that Univision report highlighted a variety of concerns the US has about Teheran’s efforts to engage with countries and other actors in the region. 

As such, 2012 hearings will examine Iran’s “political and commercial outreach, as well as more nefarious activities.”