US Reporter Arrested in Venezuela by Maduro's Military

BREAKING: Venezuela expels German ambassador for backing Guaido

German Ambassador expelled from Venezuela after supporting 'interim President' Juan Guaido

The arrest risks further escalating tensions between the government of Nicolas Maduro and the United States, which along with more than 50 other countries has recognised National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate president. "Instead, Maduro [allowed] Juan Guaido back into the country - but many saying today that's revealing his regime's relative weakness and isolation".

For the past two months, Venezuela has been locked in a dramatic political crisis, which has seen countries around the world disavow its president and back an upstart politician in his bid to depose him.

The German Ambassador to Venezuela, Daniel Kriener, has been ordered to leave the country having been declared "persona non grata" by the government.

The White House said earlier yesterday that banks would face sanctions for "illegitimate transactions" that helped Maduro and his network. She said Weddle had been living in Venezuela since June 2014.

It comes after Germany was among the countries to recognise Maduro's rival, Juan Guaido, as the country's legitimate leader.

The Venezuelan government did not say why he was being held and did not respond to calls seeking comment.

The foreign ministry gave German envoy Daniel Kriener 48 hours to leave for "interference" in Venezuela's internal affairs.

After the expulsion order, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he had made a decision to recall Kriener to Berlin for consultations.

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.

Maduro, meanwhile, pressed his supporters to hold "anti-imperialist" marches Saturday to counter fresh protests planned by Guaido. On Tuesday, Maduro belittled his opponents as "opportunists and cowards", but did not mention Guaido by name.

Mr Guaido has denounced president Nicolas Maduro's re-election a year ago as a "sham", while the Socialist leader says he is the victim of a US-led "economic war".

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.

"They do this for one reason alone, to intimidate journalists from reporting on Juan Guaido and on conditions in Venezuela", Rubio said.

Kriener, along with ambassadors and diplomats from other European embassies, had gone to the airport on Monday to support Guaido, who had risked arrest on his return to Venezuela for flouting a court-imposed travel ban to visit other Latin American countries.

Weddle is the latest in a series of foreign journalists to be taken into custody in Venezuela.

The United States slapped sanctions on Venezuela's vital oil industry in January to try to cut off government revenue and force Maduro out, and pledged further action on Wednesday.

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