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:

Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions
Phone: 917.887.4063 / 212.712.2781
Email: soffin@gmail.com

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.

Thank you.

9 Responses to “The Nigerian army has arrested my brother-in-law”

  1. Imperatrixon 02 Sep 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Oh my gosh, Marsha, my thoughts are with you and your family. I’ll see what I can drum up locally. Keep us informed.

  2. ariannaon 02 Sep 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I wish I had more for you than good thoughts & best wishes, but I’m sending them full-force to you and your family, and especially your brother-in-law and his companions! Telling the truth should NOT be illegal.

  3. Chrison 02 Sep 2008 at 1:52 pm

    *crosses fingers*

  4. Amyon 02 Sep 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Wow, how horribly scary. All good thoughts and karma going his way.

  5. Jennuon 02 Sep 2008 at 6:41 pm

    The story’s been picked up by AP, Google News and Gothamist.com.

    My thoughts are with you.

  6. Jennuon 02 Sep 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Have you considered sending the story to Jess and Casey so that can post it on Ravelry? The power of the knitters and all that. There has got to be a knitter in the state department.

  7. Frankon 02 Sep 2008 at 9:47 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’ll be watching your blog for updates.

  8. Pixieon 02 Sep 2008 at 10:50 pm

    I sincerely wish I had more to offer than all the good and safe thoughts in the world for Andrew.

  9. Deborahon 03 Sep 2008 at 6:49 am

    Wow. All my good thoughts and wishes are with you and your family. May Andrew remain safe. Big hugs to you all.