Nigeria - US filmmaker and reporter released after ten days of questioning



    MONTREAL, Sept. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is relieved
today by the news that US filmmaker and reporter Andrew Berends has been
released from Nigerian government custody. Berends was interrogated for ten
consecutive days after he and his translator, Samuel George, as well as a
Nigerian businessman, were arrested in Port Harcourt in the south of Nigeria
on August 31. The translator and the businessman have been temporarily
released yesterday but are still scheduled to report back to the security
services tomorrow.
    "We are celebrating this great news with Andrew's relatives and friends
who demonstrated impressive and exceptional mobilization to achieve this
outcome," said the international press freedom organization. "Their collective
efforts brought about the direct and determinative use of American diplomacy
to secure Andrew's release. Now that Andrew's case is settled, we expect his
translator and the businessman who was arrested at the same time to be freed
unconditionally as soon as possible. We hope the Nigerian authorities have
learned from this episode that it is absurd to arrest reporters in the Delta
region and accuse them of spying when they are simply reporting, with
permission, on economic and political situations in that country."
    After a last day at the headquarters of the State Security Service (SSS,
domestic intelligence services) in the capital city of Abuja, Berends was
handed over to representatives of the US embassy on Tuesday, September 9. On
Monday, Samuel George and the Nigerian businessman were set free from the SSS
offices in Port-Harcourt but were scheduled to report back to security
officials again tomorrow, Wednesday September 10. They were told they would
not be cleared before Andrew Berends' case is settled.
    Berends boarded a flight to Germany on September 9 in the evening after
receiving a deportation order.
    Yesterday, US Senators Schumer, Clinton, Murray, Durbin, Cantwell, Leahy,
Feingold, Casey, Brown and Kerry joined together to seek Andrew Berends'
immediate release in a letter to the Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org/

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