- Timothy Tracy, 35, was arrested Wednesday at the Caracas airport, a rights group says
- Tracy is being held on allegations of funding opponents of Nicolas Maduro
- In a televised address, Maduro says Tracy was financing violent groups
Timothy Tracy went to Venezuela to make a documentary about the political division gripping the country.
Now he's in the spotlight after being arrested on allegations of funding opponents of newly elected President Nicolas Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chavez.
In a televised address on Thursday, Maduro said he ordered the arrest of Tracy, who he accused of "financing violent groups."
Tracy, 35, of Los Angeles, was arrested Wednesday at the Caracas airport as he was preparing to leave the country, Reporters Without Borders said.
"Tracy was just acting as an observer when he was filming," the journalism rights group said. "Shooting video is not evidence of participation in what the government calls an 'act of destabilization.' It is for the police and judicial authorities to investigate and establish from the facts, not for the government to designate Tracy as guilty from the outset."
The U.S. State Department said Friday it was aware an American was arrested in the Venezuelan capital, but declined to comment on the specifics of the case because of privacy considerations.
But Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said the accusations are the latest in a series of allegations in recent weeks made by the Venezuelan government that "foreign actors" are attempting to influence political developments in the country.
"These allegations have not been substantiated," Ventrell said. "The U.S. continues to categorically reject any allegations of U.S. government efforts to destabilize the Venezuelan government or to harm anyone in Venezuela."