Venezuela expels German ambassador for 'meddling,' arrests U.S. journalist


"It is unacceptable for Nicolas Maduro to detain Cody Weddle, an American citizen and a journalist, reporting to the world on what is happening in Venezuela".

Germany, the United States and more than 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader in the wake of an election past year riddled with irregularities in which Maduro claimed a second term. Weddle also worked as an intern at WSLS 10 in 2011 and now works as a reporter for one of our sister stations, WPLG, in South Florida.

Mr Maduro, who won reelection to a second term in an election widely seen as a sham, insists he is the victim of a coup.

When he returned to Caracas - his latest challenge to Maduro's authority - Guaido announced to tens of thousands of supporters his plans for new protests.

Sources told WPLG that Weddle and his assistant were still being interrogated as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, though no one has heard from them - and Venezuela's Ministry of Communication is remaining silent on the matter.

Neither Venezuela's information ministry nor the U.S. State Department immediately responded to requests for comment.

Weddle has reported from Venezuela for more than four years, most recently working as a freelance journalist for WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami, Florida.

Kimberly Breier, the top USA diplomat for the Western Hemisphere, said on Twitter that the State Department was "aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another US journalist has been detained in Venezuela", without naming Weddle.

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"The European support for Juan Guaido is unwavering".

Weddle's arrest, which came a week after Venezuela deported a team from USA television network Univision, was condemned by Guaido, Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro and several US lawmakers from both major parties. The Trump administration refused to obey Maduro's order.

"The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network", Bolton said in a statement.

The German Foreign Office confirmed the diplomat's expulsion: "Daniel Kriener has been declared a persona non grata".

WPLG said in a story posted on its website that it last communicated with Weddle on Tuesday afternoon.

National Assembly leader Juan Guaido also took to Twitter to demand the government free Weddle, "who was kidnapped by a regime that usurps functions and tries, without success, to hide the truth of what is happening in our country".

"This is an incomprehensible decision that aggravates the situation and does not contribute to de-escalation", Maas said in a statement.

Kriener was reportedly among a handful of ambassadors who went to the airport on Monday to greet Juan Guaido on his return from a tour of Latin American countries that support Venezuela's right-wing opposition movement.