Sep 2nd, 2008
I think I’ve mentioned here before that my husband’s brother is an independent documentary filmmaker. Since April he’s been in Nigeria, working on a film about conflicts in the Niger Delta. Two days ago he was arrested on a spying charge.
Here is the official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions
Phone: 917.887.4063 / 212.712.2781
American documentary filmmaker detained in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
NEW YORK, September 2, 2008 – Andrew Berends, an established, award-winning American filmmaker and journalist from New York, was detained Sunday August 31st by the Nigerian military along with his translator, Samuel George, and Joe Bussio, the manager of a local bar. Andrew entered Nigeria legally in April 2008 to complete a documentary film.
Andrew was held in custody without food, sleep, or representation, and with limited water for 36 hours. He was questioned by the army, the police, and the State Security Services in Port Harcourt. He was then temporarily released, with an order to the SSS office at 9AM Tuesday morning. The State Security Services has confiscated his passport and personal property. Andrew’s translator, Samuel George, remained in custody over night.
The US State Department is aware of the situation, and an attorney has been retained on Andrewʼs behalf. We, Andrew’s friends, family, and colleagues, are deeply concerned that he has been held without cause and are calling for his safe treatment and immediate release.
Reporters sans frontieres (Reporters without Borders) has issued a similar statement.
Andy was released for the night yesterday but ordered to report back to the police this morning. While he was out he was able to communicate with my husband via e-mail. It sounds like he’s okay for now, but it’s unclear what will happen next.
Whatever you have that might help him—media contacts, high-level political contacts, happy thoughts, good karma, whatever—please use it now. And please spread the work about this: the more attention it gets, the better.