This claim initially drew ridicule from opposition blogs and a swift denial from Ultimas Noticias (UN). However, the situation gained an air of gravity when top state outlets such as Correo del Orinoco repeated and highlighted the accusation. The UN reported on 11 May that the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) visited the newspaper’s editorial offices, and that the UN’s cruciverbalist, Neptali Segovia, spoke with the SEBIN “voluntarily” in an effort to diffuse the controversy and “clarify” the situation. Segovia insisted that his work had “no political intentions.”
Other opposition outlets involved in the story remained quiet about the issue until international news agencies picked up the story on 12 May, and even then said little. Notably, these international headlines featured skeptical reactions from avowed supporters of Chavez. An 11 May column from Venezuelan intellectual Nestor Francia on the pro-Bolivarian site Aporrea.org earned attention as it compared Perez's story to a “cheap spy film.” He regretted that Segovia had been “unjustly accused of something so serious.” Notably, however, Francia also expressed glowing support for Perez’s show outside this latest “fantasy,” but he warned that such “irresponsible” claims would harm the “credibility” of the left’s ostensibly legitimate claims against the other “conspiracy plans of the right.”
UN itself appeared reluctant to provoke the regime into further action, as its own coverage of the incident featured tellingly cropped images of the crossword in question with the controversial words “Adan” and “asasinan not entirely visible (see image above, at right) nor directly mentioned. Prior to these accusations, UN had already expressed concern that it was the target of a smear campaign, noting the creation of fake twitter accounts bearing its name and reporting false or inaccurate information. Elsewhere, other leading opposition outlets appeared similarly hesitant to engage the issue. El Universal continued to publish editorials attacking Chavez’s policies, but notably did not highlight the issue (searches on it website primarily lead only to references in comments from readers). Meanwhile El Nacional relied on republished reports from international news agencies such as BBC, as if merely acknowledging a prominent storyline in the international press, a tactic used in the past by opposition outlets facing government pressure.