National Assembly president Juan Guaido, his wife and several lawmakers were arrested in Venezuela.

Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and lawmaker of the opposition party Popular Will (Voluntad Popular), speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela January 10, 2019.
Juan Guaido, President of the Venezuelan National Assembly and lawmaker of the opposition party Popular Will (Voluntad Popular), speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela January 10, 2019. (Reuters)

Venezuelan intelligence agents have released opposition leader and congress chief Juan Guaido, his wife and several opposition legislators on Sunday, after briefly detaining them.

He was on his way to mass political rally when he was pulled from his car.

Video circulating on social media show an SUV being intercepted on a highway in which Juan Guaido was purportedly traveling to an anti-government rally.

While it was not possible to identify Guaido in the video, his wife and Guaido's own Twitter account said that he had been detained.

Later a member of his party speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety said he had been released.

Guaido has been leading an increasingly tense standoff with President Nicolas Maduro seeking to oust the socialist from power.

"We are going to fulfill our constitutional duties," Guaido said a group of cheering supporters at the rally after he had been released.

"We are survivors — not victims, and we are going to move this country forward."

Guaido, the newly-elected chief of Venezuela's opposition-run Congress has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a dictator, called his government ''de facto,'' and said he was ''usurping the presidency'' by being sworn in to a second term.

Guaido is from the hard-line opposition party Popular Will, and was elected to head the legislature on January 05.  In his first statement as leader, he said he would confront the ''dictatorship'' and seek fair elections in Venezuela.

Maduro was sworn in for a second term on January 10 after winning a much criticised and broadly boycotted 2018 election.

Guaido's statements add to criticism by governments around the world that have accused Maduro of undermining democracy and mismanaging the economy. But the largely powerless congress Guaido leads has few concrete means of easing Maduro's grip on power.

Venezuela's annual inflation now tops 1 million percent and basic food and medicine are out of the reach of most citizens, spurring an exodus of some 3 million people since 2015, according to the United Nations.

Source: Reuters