The family of a Canadian citizen caught in the middle of an espionage controversy between Venezuela and Colombia is calling on the federal government to intervene in his case.
Luis Carlos Cossio, 52, a medical doctor who has joint Canadian-Colombian citizenship and lives in Venezuela, was arrested in Venezuela along with another man last month on suspicion of spying.
Venezuelan authorities say they found a photograph of a telecommunications tower in a camera belonging to one of the men. Colombian media reported the tower was part of a facility used by the Venezuelan intelligence service.
Authorities subsequently arrested several other people, including members of the Cossio family, which runs an ice cream business in the Venezuelan state of Barinas.
Cossio's brother, Miguel Angel, said the Canadian government must intervene to ensure the former Calgary resident is treated fairly.
Miguel Cossio said Canadian embassy officials visited his brother on April 10.
A Foreign Affairs official has confirmed a Canadian citizen is currently imprisoned in Venezuela and that embassy officials are providing consular assistance.
Helida Giraldo, the sister of one of those arrested, said Cossio is an avid photographer.
"He was taking photos, but he didn't know they were of the [Venezuelan intelligence service] facility," she told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
During a televised cabinet meeting in early April, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the Cossio ice cream factory was a "facade" and that family members had been taking pictures around the country, Reuters reported.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the arrests were unjustified and accused Venezuela of violating the rights of Colombian citizens.
"This is called a violation of human rights," Uribe said. "And the government of Colombia cannot permit violations of human rights against its citizens, whether they live in Colombia or elsewhere."