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Venezuela Releases U.S. Journalist From Detention

Venezuelan authorities have released the American reporter held in detention since Thursday.
Posted at 9:05 AM, Nov 10, 2013

Venezuelan authorities have released the American reporter they’d held in detention since Thursday.

The Miami Herald’s Jim Wyss was in the South American country reporting on municipal elections and chronic shortages when the country’s National Guard arrested him in the western city of San Cristobal. (Via WTVJ

El Universal reports he was held in a government immigration center in Caracas before his release Saturday. 

In a story published on its site, The Miami Herald reported Wyss was in good spirits, joking about the living conditions and his diet of ham sandwiches. He told the paper: "I have deep respect for Venezuela and its people and I look forward to continuing to report from the country."

Soon after his release, Wyss tweeted: "A sincere thanks to everyone who helped win my speedy release and to the Venezuelan authorities who made it possible."  (Via Twitter / @jimwyss

According to the Miami Herald, the Venezuelan government said it took Wyss into custody because he didn’t have permission to report there. But as some observers have noted, his detention isn’t all that surprising, given Venezuela’s track record with journalists.

Wyss wasn't even the first American held in Venezuelan custody this year. In April, Timothy Tracy, a filmmaker, was arrested at a Caracas airport on charges of espionage and inciting post-election violence. He wasn’t released for another two months. (Via ATodaVidaTV)

Since his election in April, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly claimed the U.S. is trying to overthrow him. In September, he cancelled a trip to New York over what he called threats to his safety.   (Via Euronews

Maduro’s had to deal with negative headlines and a deteriorating economy since his election. In turn, press freedom groups have accused Maduro of cracking down on free speech in an attempt to silence his critics. (Via BBC

Venezuela is facing mounting shortages of basic necessities, including milk, wheat and toilet paper.  Maduro has accused his political opponents of causing  the shortage in an attempt to bring down his government. (Via CNN)  

In September, Venezuela expelled three U.S. diplomats Maduro said were conspiring against him. The State Department has said it will investigate Wyss's detention.