STOP PRESS: BREAKING NEWS

Andrew Berends coming home:

BREAKING NEWS:  We believe that Andrew has been deported and is currently on his way out of the country.  We’re waiting to hear his voice when he connects in Europe, and will confirm his release then.

US Senators take up the cause

US Senators take up the call:

Today Senators Schumer, Clinton, Murray, Durbin, Cantwell, Leahy, Feingold, Casey, Brown and Kerry joined together to seek Andrew’s immediate release in a letter to the Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Thank you to all of you who called and advocated on his behalf.

The letter appears below. Please continue to check back here for updates on this situation.

Tuesday Morning and no good news

Day 10 in detention:

It’s Tuesday morning now, and this is the 10th day since Andrew’s arrest arrest and the seizure of his passport and belongings. Nothing has changed. The Nigeria Security Services still have his passport. They have given no indication of when he will be free to go or if he will be charged with any crime.

Yesterday’s action alert still applies. We must keep up the pressure to ensure he is released soon. Please contact the New York Senators and your own senators and congresspeople.

You can find a listing of your local representatives by clicking here and details for Senators Schumer and Clinton by scrolling down.

Action Update: Monday at 4pm ET

Action Update: Monday at 4pm ET

******************************

Monday, September 8, 2008

American documentary filmmaker Andrew Berends remains in the custody of the Nigerian State Security Services, now 9 days after his arrest and detention on false charges.

The State Security Service (SSS) still has Andrew’s passport and belongings, and they have given no indication of when they intend to release him.

We believe that New York Senators Clinton and Schumer need to put continued pressure on the State Department and the Nigerian Government to secure the immediate release of Andrew Berends, a native of New York, and Samuel George, the Nigerian translator with whom he worked, who is also detained by the SSS.

Therefore, we ask everyone to contact the offices of Clinton and Schumer to demand decisive action.

What to say:

  • As a constituent and a concerned citizen, I wanted to bring your attention to the continued detention of American journalist Andrew Berends and his translator, Samuel George, in Nigeria. Having been arrested nine days ago, he has still not been charged.
  • Thank you for the work you have done so far, however, the continued detention of Andrew and Samuel, after nine days with no official charges made against them is a bad sign. Please commit to stepping up your level of involvement on this issue, and continuing to apply consistent pressure to your colleagues in Congress and the State Department to have Andrew and Samuel released.
  • Nigeria enjoys the highest level of diplomatic relations with the United States, and for an American journalist to be detained without representation and subjected to coercive questioning is both highly inappropriate and illegal.

Reaching the Senators:

The contact information for NY senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer is:

      Action Alert: 9/8/08

      Action Alert: Monday September 8th

      It is the middle of the day on Monday in Nigeria, and Andrew has already been re-detained and questioned for over 3 hours with the State Security Service (SSS).

      The more pressure we apply to our elected leaders (and by extension to the State Department) the sooner Andrew will be released. Your collective calls on Friday made a huge difference, and Andrew was able to spend the weekend in comfort thanks to YOUR efforts on the phone. Please don’t stop now.

      Please contact your local congressional representatives TODAY and ask them to continue to put political pressure on this issue. If you have already called them on this matter, call again to follow up. You can find your local representatives here.

      What to say:

      • As a constituent and a concerned citizen, I wanted to bring your attention to the continued detention of American journalist Andrew Berends and his translator, Samuel George, in Nigeria. Having been arrested eight days ago, he has still not been charged, and is currently being subjected to yet another day of interrogation.
      • Nigeria enjoys the highest level of diplomatic relations with the United States, and for an American journalist to be detained without representation and subjected to coercive questioning is both highly inappropriate and illegal.
      • We ask you to make known your awareness and concern about this matter, contact your colleagues in Congress and the State Department, and work to ensure the good treatment and speedy release of Andrew Berends and his interpreter from Nigerian custody

      Senators from New York:

      We would like everyone to call both their own local representatives and also the two Senators from New York State. When talking with New York reps, please add that Andrew is a New Yorker. Both the NY senators have previously spoken out on Andrew’s behalf, but it is critical that they keep up the pressure on their State Department counterparts TODAY. Please call and ask for their urgent and immediate attention to this matter.

      The contact information for NY senators Clinton and Schumer is:

      • Senator Charles Schumer (D- NY) 212-486-4430
      • Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY) 212-688-6262

      Please forward this call to action to anyone you think could help by making a call to their representatives and the NY senators.

      Word from Andrew:

      “A Million Thanks”: Andrew Berends

      The following is an email Andrew was able to send out recently. It is intended as a thank you to all the readers and followers of this site, as well as anyone else who reached out so far in this effort.

      We are thankful that Andrew is comfortable for the moment, but urge you to please check back here on Monday, when Andrew is returned into SSS custody. There may still be more to do.

      Dear Friends,

      I am overwhelmed by the extraordinarily deep pool of effort, time,
      ingenuity, concern, love, and prayers to which you have all
      contributed. During what has been a dark week, I have been uplifted
      knowing that so many people have been thinking about me and helping me.

      I am also grateful that people saw the importance of remembering to advocate for Samuel George who has served as my translator and friend. Of all his traits, I appreciate Samuel most for his honesty and integrity.

      And Joe Bussio who hosted me from time to time has not been forgetten. Joe was also unnecessarily dragged into this mess. If he is guilty of anything, it is excessive kindness.

      If you’re ever in trouble, there is no one better to have in your
      corner than Aaron Soffin. And with James Longley working at his side, your enemies don’t stand a chance.

      I am in a hotel in Abuja, enjoying the respite of a weekend recess
      from this ongoing investigation into my alleged wrongdoings. It is
      important to understand that we are not out of the woods yet, but
      hopeful that the matter will be resolved quickly.

      There is one boy I filmed here who has endured far more difficulties
      than I have. He made a statement which has given me great solace. He said, “Any time that you wake up, it’s your morning. Now is the bitter time. I pray that soon we will enter into the joy side.” I couldn’t put it any better myself.

      Please accept my gratitude for all that you have done for me.

      I know that many other people have helped in this effort who may not be on this e-mail, or whose names I may not know. Please extend my deepest thanks to them as well.

      – Andrew

      Weekend Update:

      “Still holding our breath”

      Two new pieces of news coverage regarding Andrew this morning — both important in better understanding the situation in Nigeria as well as the nature of Andrew’s temporary release. While everyone is relieved that things have moved forward, this ordeal is definitely not over and we can’t give up our vigilance.

      First is a radio interview with Aaron Soffin, Andrew’s producer and editor, and Sandy Cioffi from the documentary Sweet Crude.

      Sandy and her Seattle based crew were detained in Nigeria under similar circumstances back in April 2008. Listen to hear more about the circumstances of Andrew’s arrest, the situation on the ground for journalists in Nigeria and why a better understanding of this complex area is critically important.

      Click here to listen

      You can also reach the radio interview by visiting the KPFA website

      ——–

      Also, the New York Times ran an update about Andy’s situation today. You can read it below:

      Nigeria: Brief Release for Prisoner

      By WILL CONNORS

      Published: September 6, 2008

      Andrew Berends, an American filmmaker who was arrested Sunday and charged with spying, has been moved to the capital, Abuja, and released for the weekend. He is still under arrest, however, and must report back to the State Security Services on Monday. American Embassy officials in Nigeria and State Department officials in Washington are working for his full release. Mr. Berends’s Nigerian interpreter, Samuel George, has also been released. Amnesty International had issued a statement warning that Mr. George might have been tortured and urged that both men be released immediately.