Venezuela: US journalist reportedly arrested in early-morning raid

German ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Martin Kriener delivers a news conference next to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and accredited diplomatic representatives of the European Union in Caracas

It gave Kriener 48 hours to leave the country.

Trump is leading worldwide pressure to have Maduro replaced by opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom Washington recognizes as the official interim president.

Weddle is the latest in a string of foreign journalists to be detained in Venezuela.

A government statement said Kriener "showed up at Maiquetia worldwide airport to witness the arrival of the deputy in contempt of the country, Juan Guaido".

"Venezuela considers it unacceptable that a foreign diplomat carries out in its territory a public role closer to that of a political leader aligned with the conspiratorial agenda of extremist sectors of the Venezuelan opposition", the government said in a statement. The Maduro government's decision not to move against Guaido upon his return to Venezuela on Monday reflects the intense pressure Maduro faces and, possibly, a calculation that restraint is the best tactic for now.

Guaido denounces Maduro as an usurper whose re-election a year ago resulted from a sham vote.

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.

At the country's main airport, Kriener spoke to journalists and said he hoped the leader of the National Assembly would be safe.

He said Germany's ambassador to Venezuela would be returning home for consultations.

The U.S., which says Maduro's presidency is illegitimate, said Wednesday he must free the reporters.

More than 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as interim president, but Maduro has powerful backing from Russian Federation and China.

The measure, announced by President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton, is the latest tightening of screws in Washington's campaign to force Maduro from power.

The U.S., Germany and some 50 other countries have urged Maduro to resign so the country can prepare for elections.

The station said Weddle's last contact was on Tuesday afternoon and attempts to reach him on Wednesday have been unsuccessful.

According to the Miami Herald, U.S. officials have "confirmed they are aware of Mr. Weddle's detention and are monitoring it closely".



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