1. ITV Report

Crossword writer accused of Chavez assassination messages

A veteran Venezuelan crossword writer has been accused of hiding a coded message to assassinate President Hugo Chavez's brother.

Neptali Segovia was interviewed by intelligence agents and has denied any subversive intentions, his newspaper Ultimas Noticias has said.

It follows allegations by a state TV pundit said Mr Segovia had disguised a message to gun down Chavez's brother, Adan, in the answers to various clues in a crossword this week.

The crossword at the centre of the 'assassination' controversy in Venezuela Credit: Ultimas Noticias

Earlier this week, Perez Pirela, who uses an early evening TV show to lay into Chavez opponents, said a group of mathematicians, psychologists and others had studied the Spanish-language crossword and concluded it was a coded assassination plot.

Venezuelan TV pundit Perez Pirela made the revelations about Mr Segovia's crossword on live television Credit: VTV

Answers to clues included "Adan", "asesinen" (meaning "kill") and "rafaga" (which can mean either a burst of gunfire, or a gust of wind).

Noting how French leader Charles de Gaulle used to broadcast coded messages from London to Resistance fighters in France during World War Two, Pirela said:

"These sorts of messages were used a lot in World War Two. It's a message ... I'm speaking in the name of truth."

Venezuela's President Chavez greets his mother and brother Adan upon arriving from Cuba at Simon Bolivar airport in Caracas Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Ultimas Noticias said six officers from Venezuela's intelligence service had visited the newspaper's editorial offices on Thursday asking for information about Segovia.

After that, he went voluntarily to the intelligence service's headquarters to give a statement, it said.

Mr Segovia is quoted as saying:

"I am the first to want to clarify this. I have nothing to hide because the work I have been doing for the last 17 years has only a cultural and education intention, and is transparent.

I was treated respectfully. They took down my comments and made a routine summary. Then they took me home."

The Police intelligence service was not available for comment.

On Friday, another newspaper, the militantly pro-opposition [

Clues included: "What officials do when they misuse public funds" (Corruption); Perhaps the most abused law? (Constitution); and "Name of supreme leader who governs our destiny? Bearded." (Fidel Castro'>Tal Cual,](http://www.talcualdigital.com/index.html) lampooned the Chavez government with a front-page crossword highlighting the nation).

Pro-opposition newspaper Tal Cual lampooned the Chavez government in a front-page crossword on Friday Credit: Tal Cual

While causing laughter in some circles, the recent events show the polarised environment in Venezuela, where the socialist Chavez has been accusing opposition leaders of planning violence in the run-up to an October presidential vote.

Mystery over cancer-stricken Chavez's condition has only heightened the nervous atmosphere in Venezuela.