Venezuela's top diplomat says U.S. officials must turn over a former Venezuelan Supreme Court justice whose flight to the United States has angered President Hugo Chavez's government.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro says Washington is legally obligated to return Eladio Aponte, who was removed from office by the National Assembly in March for allegedly helping a drug trafficker.

Aponte has been in the United States for almost a month. The former judge has been reported to be providing intelligence that could embarrass Chavez's government and lead to tougher U.S. action against purported drug trafficking networks.

Aponte also has angered Chavez and his allies by accusing Venezuelan officials of corruption and forging ties to drug traffickers.

Maduro spoke on Monday.