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Cody Weddle most recently reported on the 'triumphant return' of opposition leader Juan Guaido
An American journalist has become the latest journalist to be detained by Venezuelan authorities.
Cody Weddle, a freelance reporter, was taken into custody during a raid Wednesday morning at his home in Caracas, WPLG-TV reported. Weddle had reported earlier this week on opposition leader Juan Guaido's "triumphant return" to Venezuela. Authorities also detained his assistant, Carlos Camacho, and reportedly confiscated their news equipment.
The 29-year-old from Virginia has been living in the Venezuelan capital since 2014, according to the Miami Herald, and has worked as a freelance reporter for a number of news outlets, including the Miami Herald, WPLG, the Telegraph, and others.
What have U.S. officials said?
Assistant Secretary of State Kimberly Breier said in a statement on Twitter that the U.S. is aware of Weddle's detainment, along with a demand for his immediate release.
".@StateDept is aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another U.S. journalist has been detained in #Venezuela by #Maduro, who prefers to stifle the truth rather than face it. Being a journalist is not a crime. We demand the journalist's immediate release, unharmed," Breier wrote.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) also demanded Weddle's release.
"Completely unacceptable for @NicolasMaduro and his thugs to detain @WPLGLocal10's Cody Weddle for reporting on the successful return of the legitimate Venezuelan President @jguaido," Scott wrote on Twitter. "He must be released immediately and the U.S. will not stand for this kind of intimidation!"
Eva Golinger, a New York-based lawyer and longtime supporter of former Venezuelan leader and Nicolas Maduro's predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, called the move to detain Weddle as "very dangerous."
"If true, this is extremely problematic and a very dangerous move for the Maduro government to make. Trump is waiting for any excuse to intervene." Golinger posted to Twitter.
What did Weddle's mom say?
Weddle's family has been in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, WPLG reported.
The journalist's mother, Sherry Weddle, told the news outlet that she reached out to American officials in Venezuela to try to learn his whereabouts and condition. She learned of her son's detainment by his contacts in the South American country.
Embassy officials told Sherry Weddle that they've reached out to Venezuela's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and are now waiting for information. She was told it could be a "slow process," WPLG's Amy Viteri tweeted.
Weddle said that she had exchanged messages with her son Tuesday morning and again later that evening.
"[I heard from him at] maybe about 6 or 7 yesterday evening and yesterday morning about 10," Sherry Weddle told CNN, according to WPLG. "I asked him how he was doing. He said he was fine and wanted to know how I was."
Weddle reportedly told CNN that she's "very, very, very worried" about her son's safety.
How long since anyone has heard from Weddle?
Weddle's last contact with WPLG news station employees was Tuesday afternoon. Attempts by management to reach him have been unsuccessful.
"We are working through various channels to get as much information as we can and to see that Cody is released." WPLG President & CEO E. R. Bert Medina said in a statement Wednesday. "Cody has been dedicated and committed to telling the story in Venezuela to our viewers here in South Florida. The arrest of a journalist doing his job is outrageous and unacceptable."
His last on-air report was Monday and his last Twitter activity was Tuesday when he shared his report for WPLG.
"Juan Guaido with a triumphant return to Caracas. But his path forward remains uncertain," Weddle wrote.
Last month, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos and his news crew were detained after Maduro became angered over the questions he was being asked during an interview at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. The team's equipment was also seized.
The Mexican-born American journalist was released later the same day.
In November, German freelance reporter Billy Six was arrested on charges of espionage and rebellion. He has remained in custody, according to WPLG.
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