Saturday, September 06, 2008

American Documentarian held unreasonably in Nigeria

hey friends and activists,
documentary filmmaker Andrew Berends has been detained in Nigeria without reason since last weekend. he's not been charged w/ anything, and hasn't been visited by a US State Dept. rep. despite the US' good relationship with Nigeria.

Berends (left) was at SILVERDOCS in 2006 with his previous film Blood of My Brother. Please call your congressman and spread the word and make some noise so Berends can get released, and we can maintain free speech and journalistic integrity!
repost from

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.
Andrew entered the country legally as a filmmaker and journalist. He was filming in a public place in a country that claims to be a democracy when he was arrested. He was not filming oil facilities or the military, which are the only two subjects the Nigerian government has deemed to be sensitive. We have been told that on the day he was detained, Andrew even asked and was granted permission by a military official prior to filming.

more info, including details on how to reach your congressman about this, and what to say are here:
here's how to find out who your congressman is, and how to contact them:

here is a link to all the members of the House Sub-Committe on Africa:

** For the latest updates about the situation and to strategize about how to help, go to the Free Andy Berends topic on The D-Word:

** There is also a Help Andy Blog: