European Union hopes Venezuela reconsiders expulsion of German ambassador

Venezuela's National Assembly president Juan Guaido

Venezuela's National Assembly president Juan Guaido

Venezuelan security forces detained a USA freelance reporter and his Venezuelan assistant Wednesday for questioning before both men were released, according to the nation's union for journalists and local media. The Venezuelan government did not say why he was being held and did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Weddle was in the custody of Venezuela's Dirección General de Contrainteligencia Militar, a military agency that investigates espionage. Venezuelan military counterintelligence agents detained American journalist Cody Weddle and his Venezuelan colleague Carlos Camacho early on Wednesday, Venezuela's National Press Workers Union said on Twitter, adding that the government has arrested 36 journalists this year.

The U.S. State Department had said in a statement that "the world is watching" Maduro's handling of the case.

WPLG, one of the outlets for which Weddle worked, added that he was at the main Caracas-area airport waiting for a US -bound flight. Dozens of counties, including the US and Canada, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader. "The worldwide community must prevent Venezuelan money from being misused to kill opponents of the regime and indigenous peoples", Guaido said in an interview with the German news weekly Der Spiegel.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, met with German ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Kriener, right, in September 2018.

Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida reacted to the news Wednesday, with Scott calling Weddle's detention "completely unacceptable".

Griffith said it's clear Maduro's forces are holding the journalist.

The journalist's mother, Sherry Weddle, said he has lived in Venezuela since 2014, according to WPLG.

Weddle, who is 29, has been reporting out of Caracas for four years, according to Espacio Publico, a free speech NGO.

Kimberly Breier, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for hemispheric affairs, had earlier demanded Weddle's 'immediate release, ' charging that Maduro 'prefers to stifle the truth rather than face it'. "US citizen & journalist Cody Weddle is missing in Venezuela and apparently arrested by the Maduro regime this morning", he tweeted. "I asked him how he was doing".

As Weddle's detention was unfolding, the U.S. announced another round of punitive actions against the Venezuelan government. "They were interested in a story I did about the current atmosphere in the armed forces", Cody is quoted to have told Local 10.

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