Venezuela Denies Mystery Plane to Greece Was Smuggling Gold

The Venezuelan government plane landed at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport last Saturday

The Venezuelan ambassador to Greece on Wednesday dismissed allegations that the plane which made an unexpected stop in Athens last Saturday was shipping gold out of the country.

In an interview with the Greek daily newspaper “Efimerida ton Syntakton,” Freddy Fernandes described the reports as a “paranoid creation of one’s imagination.”

“It’s foolish to believe that the Venezuelan foreign minister himself was taking the gold out of the country. The story is part of a concerted attack against our country,” he added.

Earlier, a Venezuelan opposition lawmaker claimed in an interview with Greek broadcaster Skai TV that the aircraft with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on board was transporting “five or six” tons of gold.

Jose Guerra, a deputy of Venezuela’s National Assembly, suggested that Arreaza was using Greece as an “intermediary” in a bid to trade the hard currency for euros and fly them back to Caracas.

Guerra claimed that Arreaza opted to fly to Greece specifically because the country had endorsed Maduro in the ongoing constitutional crisis. He stated that it would not be easy for a government plane to arrive in another EU country due to European sanctions, which include travel bans.

According to an announcement by the Greek Civil Aviation Authority, the jet carrying Arreaza landed at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport for refueling. It had flown in from Abu Dhabi.

The plane was on the tarmac for approximately four hours. The Venezuelan minister remained in the VIP section of the airport throughout that time, the Civil Aviation Authority stated. Authority officials added that the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been notified of the arrival hours in advance.

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