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Miami Herald reporter detained in Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan authorities were holding an American journalist from the Miami Herald for a third day on Saturday after he was picked up near the border with Colombia reporting on economic shortages and an upcoming local election, his colleagues said.

Bogota-based Jim Wyss was believed to have been transferred to Caracas from the border area, his newspaper said.

"We are very concerned," Aminda Marques Gonzalez, the Herald's executive editor, said in a story on its web site.

"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."

Officials from President Nicolas Maduro's government had no comment on the case.

Since winning an election to replace Hugo Chavez in April, Maduro has leveled a stream of accusations of U.S.-inspired plots and sabotage against his socialist administration.

An American filmmaker was arrested for nearly two months on accusations of spying, while three U.S. diplomats were expelled in September on similar charges. Maduro says Western media are complicit in a "silent war" against him.

Venezuela's foreign press association joined a chorus of calls from media bodies for Wyss' release. Its president, Humberto Marquez, also urged the Maduro government to provide "truthful and timely information" on the case.

The Maduro government is under pressure over Venezuela's economy, where inflation is running at an annual 54 percent and shortages of basic goods are common. The opposition is hoping next month's nationwide municipal elections will turn into a protest vote against the successor of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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