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US journalist released by Venezuela arrives in Miami

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Miami (AFP)

A US journalist who was detained by Venezuelan security forces then deported from the country arrived in Miami Thursday, safe and with plenty to say about his interrogation.

Cody Weddle, who worked in Venezuela for several years as a correspondent for a variety of US media, told reporters that Venezuelan agents were especially keen to find out about five unnamed military generals.

Weddle said his head was covered as he was interrogated for 12 hours by military counter-intelligence agents in Caracas.

"They continuously kept asking if I had contacts in the military, if I had contacts in the local police force or the national police force," Weddle told reporters who covered his arrival at the Miami airport.

Weddle however said he never did a story about five generals.

"I don't know where they got that information, but evidently they thought I had done a story speaking to five military generals," he said.

"I did do a story speaking with local officials. I spoke to some military people in exile and also some National Police officers, but I didn't have their names I never took down their names purposely in case this situation were to happen," he said.

"I wouldn't have given their names, anyway, and they weren't in my phone, either."

According to Weddle, there is "a lot of paranoia," especially within the armed forces.

"In the armed forces there is a lot of discontent especially among the ranking file, and that's what I continued to hear ... from plenty of officials and I reported that."

Weddle's assistant, Venezuelan Carlos Camacho, was freed Wednesday after 12 hours in custody, according to the Venezuelan non-government organization Espacio Publico. Both had been arrested at their homes in Caracas.

Weddle said that Venezuelan agents confiscated his electronic gear and his telephone, but then returned it all to him.

According to Espacio Publico 49 journalists have been detained in Venezuela in 2019.

Among the foreigners, German Billy Six has been held since mid-November 2018 at El Helicoide, the headquarters of military counter-intelligence.

Last week Jorge Ramos, the star reporter US-based Spanish language TV network Univision, along with Daniel Garrido, a Venezuelan working for US-based Telemundo, were briefly detained in Caracas.

Oil rich but impoverished Venezuela is in the throes of a political crisis triggered by Guaido's decision to proclaim himself interim president in January.

He is recognized by more than 50 countries but lacks the support of high-ranking military necessary to seize power from Maduro, who he accuses of fraud in last May's presidential vote that saw the socialist leader return for a second term.

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