Thursday, September 4, 2008

Filmmaker Andrew Berends Arrested In Niger Delta

Having been through this myself in June of 2006, I know only too well what a harrowing and deeply disturbing experience this is. The Nigeria authorities do not want foreign journalists to report what is going on in the Niger Delta but it is our duty to report these kinds of stories. Andrew is a gifted filmmaker who has been working in the Niger Delta for some time and devoted vast amounts of time there to create his new film. If anyone can offer help to him please read below.

Dear friends and family,

Our dear friend and colleague, Andrew Berends, has been arrested while reporting from Nigeria. Below, and attached, you can read the details of his detainment. First, I ask you to keep him in your hopes and prayers. Second, as the news of this breaks today, I ask you to think about who you know in the media or in the Senate/House who can help bring more attention to Andrew's situation. Please call them on Andrew's behalf, and please forward the press statement below as widely as possible. The more attention this gets, the better. Third, some of you may receive calls from reporters. I urge you to say only what is written below, a carefully worded statement to protect Andrew in this difficult moment. Finally, please respond to this address only if you have high level contacts in the US government, the media, or the Nigerian government. Otherwise, please send any notes, or prayers for Andy to this e-mail address:

May Andrew hear your prayers on his behalf.
Aaron Soffin


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 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.

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