We would like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all those who helped in the release of Andrew Berends from Nigerian custody. Andy has now left Nigeria and will return to the United States shortly. Once all the facts of his deportation have been established, we will be posting a final press release about this situation.
This moment could not have been achieved in such a timely manner without the collective effort of hundreds if not thousands of people who contributed their time and energy to making this happen. If you’re reading this, that probably means YOU. So thank you once again.
Please help us also thank those representatives and officials who lent their support to our cause by sending out emails to their respective offices. We have tied up the phone lines of many a senator’s office over the past week, and it seems only fair to let them know we truly appreciate that they have gone out of their way on our behalf.
In particular, we need to thank Senators Hillary R. Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York for spearheading this effort within the US Senate, as well as Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and John Kerry (D-MA) who all took time to act quickly on this issue and call for Andrew’s release.
We strongly encourage you to email these Senators, as well as any local representatives you contacted, to express thanks for a job well done. You can find further information, and a sample letter, at the bottom of this post.
From what we understand, Samuel George, Andrew’s translator, and another man who was detained with him are returning to the State Security Service (SSS) tomorrow. We hope that they will be fully cleared then. International journalism relies on the work of such trusted friends as Samuel, and we ask you to check in tomorrow to learn of their status. If there’s more we need to do to help them, we will be the first to let you know.
And after Andrew has had a few moments to recover from this experience, check back here to learn more about his experiences in detention and the broader issues of press freedom in Nigeria, Africa, and elsewhere, as well as to see excerpts of his upcoming film, Delta Boys.
It is truly humbling and uplifting to have watched such a diverse mass of people come together to achieve something great — for Andrew Berends and Samuel George in particular but also for the issue of press freedom in general. We hope that you will all continue to advocate on this issue to help other journalists and filmmakers now and in the future.
Witnessing the groundswell of activity from people in all corners of the globe over the last 10 days has served as testament to the lives and communities that Andrew has touched, and the work that he has put himself at risk to accomplish. Let this serve as a reminder that we should all continue to raise our voices when we see injustice, and never underestimate the impact of the collective voice. It can move mountains.
Please read on for details on how to contact your reps to say thank you.
Sample letter of thanks:
Dear Senator ________,
I’m writing to express my thanks for the valuable effort that you and your
office contributed to securing the release of American filmmaker, Andrew
Berends, from Nigerian custody. I applaud this action, and appreciate the work
that you have done on Andrew’s behalf. Please continue to lend your support to
the cause of Press Freedom, and to the protection of journalists everywhere.
To email the Senators listed above, you can follow these links.
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Russell Feingold
Senator Robert Casey Jr.
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator John Kerry
To those of you who contacted your local representatives, please do take the time to contact them once again to express thanks for a job well done. The general source for contacting US Congress members is here.