USA demands release of journalist Cody Weddle detained in Venezuela

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The U.S.is pursuing new diplomatic and economic initiatives to support Guaido's bid for a transitional government in Venezuela, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Wednesday. It did not cite its sources on his release, but said his mother was "relieved" to learn the news.

A doorman at Cody Weddle's residence said a squad of five men wearing black uniforms demanded entry and left with the journalist in custody.

Weddle is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and his work has appeared in outlets such as the Miami Herald, WPLG-TV in Miami, the BBC and Al Jazeera English, according to his LinkedIn profile. Venezuela's National Union of Press Workers said on Twitter that he had been deported.

The move, which came a week after Venezuela deported a team from US television network Univision, drew condemnation from Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro and Florida Sen.

The U.S. State Department said it's aware of a missing journalist and warned President Nicolas Maduro's government that the world is watching.

On Wednesday, Maduro's government declared German ambassador Daniel Kriener persona non grata, days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed Guaido home at the Caracas airport.

He returned Monday to call for fresh demonstrations against Maduro, facing down threats of arrest after a tour of friendly Latin American capitals. It gave Kriener 48 hours to leave the country.

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

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It was the latest flashpoint in a global showdown over Venezuela, with Western nations largely recognizing Guaido as legitimate head of state, but Russian Federation and China still supporting the socialist Maduro and urging non-interference.

Juan Guaido strongly condemned the decision by President Maduro to expel the German ambassador to Caracas, and urged the envoy to "remain" in Venezuela.

"They're threatening an important European country that is providing humanitarian help to Venezuela", he said.

WPLG said in a story posted on its website that it last communicated with Weddle on Tuesday afternoon. Government officials did not comment on the case.

Meanwhile, Washington tightened the screws on its campaign of sanctions to force Maduro from power, revoking visas of 77 people linked to the regime, including officials and their families.

The adversaries have announced rival demonstrations on Saturday as they seek to motivate supporters.

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has cut ties with Colombia after opposition leaders used the neighboring Andean nation as a launching point for humanitarian aid meant to undermine his authority.

Most Western countries, including Germany, recognize Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state and back his plan to install a transition government ahead of free elections. She said that one of the men showed her an order to raid Weddle's apartment, that the order came from a military tribunal and that the journalist was being accused of "betraying the homeland".

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