November 9, 2013 12:16 pm -

Jim Wyss, the Bogota-based Andean bureau chief was doing a report on “chronic shortages and looming municipal elections” near the Colombian border when he was detained by the National Guard and then transferred to a military post.

“We are very concerned. There doesn’t seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately,” said Aminda Marques Gonzalez, the Herald’s executive editor.

In a statement, Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the Miami-based Inter American Press Association’s press freedom committee, called for Wyss’s immediate release and said he was bewildered by a “new demonstration of intolerance by a regime that day after day shows its contempt for the work of journalists and freedom of the press”.

In a statement to the Associated Press, a US state department spokesman said: “We are aware of reports on the arrest of a US citizen. We are seeking further information on these reports from the Venezuelan government. If these reports turn out to be true, we will immediately seek consular access, as we do in the every case of a detained US citizen.”

Nicolas Maduro was elected as Venezuela’s president in April, following the death of Hugo Chavez. He has repeatedly claimed that the US is trying to destabilise his regime and has expelled several American diplomats this year for alleged conspiracy. In September he claimed that he cancelled a trip to New York because former US government officials were plotting to kill him.