Venezuela may have sold passports and visas for thousands of dollars out of the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq, an investigation revealed.
CNN and CNN en Español teamed up for a year-long joint investigation that uncovered serious irregularities in the issuing of Venezuelan passports and visas, including allegations that passports were given to people with ties to terrorism.
According to the news outlets, the investigation involved reviewing thousands of documents, as well as conducting interviews in the U.S., Spain, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.
Misael Lopez, the former legal adviser to the embassy, has played a key role in revealing these secrets. Lopez provided documents that show he repeatedly told Venezuelan officials about what he discovered. But instead of investigating his allegations, the government targeted him for disclosing confidential information. U.S. officials were also made aware of his findings.
A confidential document obtained by CNN links Venezuela's new Vice President Tareck El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and IDs that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah. The accusation first arose in the early 2000s, while former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was still in office.
A Venezuelan passport permits entry into more than 130 countries without a visa, including 26 countries in the European Union, according to a ranking by Henley and Partners.
Read the entire report on CNN here.