Andy & Samuel provisionally released:
Andy’s provisional release is great news. We maintain cautious optimism that he will be on his way home very soon. We will let you know if it becomes important to resume the barrage of phone calls to the State department. Feel free to continue contacting your legislators, encouraging them to monitor the situation and take any appropriate action until we know for sure Andy is safely out of Nigeria . Ask that they not forget to mention Samuel George, who has also been provisionally released in Port Harcourt . Also please request that they keep the Niger Delta on their radar screen and act to prevent this happening to anyone else. Huge thanks to everyone who has worked on Andy’s behalf.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions Phone: 917.887.4063
/ 212.712.2781 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American filmmaker provisionally released from Nigerian custody to US embassy personnel
NEW YORK, September 5, 2008 – American filmmaker Andrew Berends is being provisionally released to US embassy personnel late Friday night, but is required to return to the State Security Services on Monday for what is expected to be routine final processing. Berends was moved Friday from the SSS offices in Port Harcourt to the Nigerian capital of Abuja. His translator, Samuel George and a Port Harcourt businessmanhave apparently also been provisionally released in Port Harcourt and must return to the SSS there on Monday.
“Andrew’s family, friends and colleagues are relieved and happy to hear of this progress and appreciate the hard work on many fronts to get to this point,” said Aaron Soffin, Berends’ colleague and coordinator of the release efforts. “We trust that his final processing on Monday will be expedient and routine. We are anxious for confirmation that he is safely on his way out of the country.”
When she heard the news Polly Berends, his mother, said, “Nothing will make me happier than to hear his voice, except to hug him.”
Hearing of Berends’ arrest Senator Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senator Hillary Clinton, D-New York, each responded with a letter toSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling for Berends’ immediate release. Several other US lawmakers, including Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, have also been actively engaged in advocating for Berends.
Berends was arrested at approximately 6 pm on Sunday, August 31st, by the Nigerian military along with his translator, Samuel George. Andrew entered Nigeria legally in April 2008 to complete a documentary film.