Film maker Andrew Berends arrested in Nigeria
Andrew Berends and his Nigerian fixer Samuel George were arrested in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt at the weekend. Berends has been working in the Niger Delta since April making a film about the oil-producing area that has been riven with conflict between government forces and armed separatists since the early 1990s,
â€œBerends was arrested just for doing his job and no other reason,â€ Reporters Without Borders said. â€œIt is absurd for the authorities to think that, by arresting him and his interpreter, they can conceal the economic and ecological disaster unfolding in the Niger Delta. Both of them must be freed at once and left alone. This is the third time in a year that baseless charges of spying have been brought against foreign journalists.â€ link
Berends recently received a portion of the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Finishing Fund. He previously directed the film Blood of my brother which looks at the consequences of the Iraq war through the eyes of an Iraqi family. There’s an interview with on the KGB Bar Lit blog.
UPDATE: The TIFF blog has more including this link in the comments to The D-Word,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions
Phone: 917.887.4063 / 212.712.2781
Email: [email protected]
American documentary filmmaker detained in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
NEW YORK, September 2, 2008 â€“ 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 Andrew’s 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. link