American journalist Jorge Ramos and a Univision news crew accompanying him in Venezuela were briefly detained against their will in Caracas after interviewing President Nicolás Maduro where Ramos reportedly called the leader a "dictator" and "murderer."
Univision, the largest Spanish television network in the US, confirmed the detention on Twitter, alleging that the embattled Venezuelan leader "didn't like the questions" from the anchorman.
The US State Department condemned the detention of Ramos, who has been a journalist at Univision since 1987 and has interviewed numerous heads of state in his career, including US presidents.
"@Jorgeramosnews and his team are being held against their will at Miraflores Palace by Nicolas Maduro," Kimberly Breier, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, tweeted Monday. "We insist on their immediate release; the world is watching."
Mexico also issued a terse statement denouncing Venezuela's actions, and urged the government to return the journalists' equipment and interview.
Ramos has dual US and Mexican citizenship.
Ramos and his team were released shortly after, but according to the network, the journalists' equipment and portions of the interview were confiscated by the Venezuelan government.
Maduro has faced increasing calls from the US to resign and allow self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó to take the helm, but the socialist president has instead increased his criticism of the US and accused Washington of attempting to meddle in the South American nation's affairs.
Maduro has continued to face increased pressure abroad and within, including members of the country's military who have reportedly abandoned their positions.
Among the team of reporters who were detained at the Venezuela presidential palace were producers Maria Martinez Guzman and Claudia Rondon, Univision News reported. Camera operator Juan Carlos Guzman and Martin Guzman were also detained.
"They robbed us of our work, they robbed us of our equipment," Ramos told Univision by phone Monday night in a televised interview. "They don't want the world to see what happens when their leader is questioned."
Ramos has been a critic of Maduro and has publicly called his government a dictatorship.
Ramos said he asked Maduro about criticisms that he was governing like a dictator, as well as the reported incarceration of political prisoners by his regime. But the journalist said it was when he showed Maduro cellphone video of a group of young men eating from a garbage truck that it prompted a sudden end of the interview.
"He tried to block the video with his hand, and he stood up and walked away," Ramos said.
Ramos said he and his team were separated, put in separate rooms, and had their equipment and personal cellphones confiscated.
"We don't have anything," Ramos said of their interview with Maduro. "Nothing."
Roughly two hours later the team was released, he said.
Minutes after news of their detention was made public, Daniel Coronell, president of news for Univision, tweeted that he'd spoken to Ramos and that the team had been allowed to leave the presidential palace.
Their equipment and "material from the interview that Nicolas Maduro didn't like," however, were confiscated.
Coronell said the team was on their way to their hotel.
Around the time of the journalists' release, Venezuela's minister of communications, Jorge Rodriguez, seemed to allude to reports of Ramos' detention in a tweet.
"Through Miraflores hundreds of reporters have passed through and received the decent treatment that we offer to those looking to do their journalistic work, and who have published the result of that work," Rodriguez tweeted. "We don't offer ourselves to cheap shows."
On Monday night, Coronell said on Twitter the Univision news team in Caracas had been informed by Venezuelan officials they would be deported from the country.
One of the members of the team tweeted that the team had been told they would have to leave the country by 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The incident occurred while Vice President Mike Pence was in Colombia, where he has been speaking out against Maduro and his government's actions and urging him to step down.
"We hope for a peaceful resolution but as President Trump has said, all options are on the table," Pence reportedly said at a conference in Bogota, sitting next to Guaidó.