Message from Andrew Berends via D-Word sent on Wednesday this week:
As you may know, I’m back in the U.S. after ten days being detained by the State Security Services in Nigeria. I’d been in Nigeria for six months filming DELTA BOYS (http://deltaboys.com/) about the oil conflict in the Niger Delta. I was picked up while filming at the Nembe Waterside in Port Harcourt. Nembe Waterside is a bustling port through which all kinds of traffic flows. It’s a point of entry to the Niger Delta creeks where villagers fish and militants are encamped. I was arrested while filming women bringing their products to market, and was falsely accused of espionage.
In the end, I was never charged with a crime. I was turned over to immigration and deported. While I regret that I didn’t manage to spend just a few more weeks there filming, I am happy to be back in New York with six months worth of footage.
Unfortunately, my Nigerian translator Samuel George and my friend and host Joe Bussio are still in Port Harcourt. They were also arrested and harassed simply because of their association with me. While I’m safe in my Brooklyn apartment, I’m doing everything I can to assure their well-being.
Joe has been cleared of all charges. Samuel is expected to report to the SSS again in a few days. During the course of this ordeal, Joe and Samuel incurred $10,000 in legal expenses. We have raised $2,000 from the support of Reporters Without Borders (http://www.rsf.org/), and $3,000 from the Committee to Protect Journalists (http://cpj.org/) and the Correspondents Fund (http://correspondentsfund.org/) combined. We’ve also raised over $1500 since Friday evening through donations from individuals, including a number of very generous D-Worders. But, we still need help to raise all the money.
To make a donation, please visit: http://helpandy.chipin.com/
As independent documentary filmmakers and journalists, we rely on people like Samuel and Joe, especially when working in unfriendly environments. When things go wrong, it’s our responsibility to help them. It is important that translators and local journalists around the world know that they can do their jobs without fear for their lives, their families, or the expenses they will incur on our behalf.
Thank you so much for your support.