Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14 6:00 p.m.

Dear Diary:
Just saw the tv spot on channel 4. It was awfully hard to see my baby's face on the television. Never thought our family would be involved in an international incident. One never knows, I guess. David is news is really dumbed down entertainment. But it gets the word out and hopefully more pressure. Which reminds me that our Senator Patty Murray sent a letter today to the US Ambassador in Nigeria. Every little bit helps. And here's the latest press release:


Leslye Wood, Press Secretary, Sweet Crude Movie

Phone: 206.282.0880 / 206.915.4339


Louise Rafkin

Phone: 510.928.3612



SEATTLE, April 14, 2008 – Nigerian government officials finally allowed a U.S. Embassy representative to visit the four American filmmakers being held in custody in Abuja by Nigerian State Security. This is the government’s first concession since detaining the Seattle-based film crew on Saturday morning.

Nigerian officials claim the group is being “detained for investigation” in accordance with Nigerian law. However, the Americans have been denied access to legal representation. Nigerian law evidently stipulates that detainees either be released or charged within 48 hours. No charges have been filed at this time.

Aaron Hellman, a spokesperson for the Overseas Services, a division of the State Department, says that the Americans are reportedly tired but in good health. Hellman said he had no information about the conditions in which they are being held. He said an Embassy representative would return to check on them tomorrow (Tuesday) but would not disclose any details about the Embassy's plan to help gain their release.

Senators Maria Cantwell, Russ Feingold, John Kerry and John Tester are currently working the channels to press the U.S. State Department to get involved.

The four Americans, along with a Nigerian citizen, were taken into custody by the Nigerian military April 12th, while traveling by boat in the Niger Delta. The filmmakers had been issued a visa by the Nigerian government granting them permission to return to Nigeria complete their documentary, Sweet Crude. The film crew has been actively documenting the impact of oil production on the Niger Delta since 2005 and was known to authorities.

Director Sandy Cioffi, along with producer Tammi Sims and photojournalists Cliff Worsham and Sean Porter entered the country legally on April 5th. They were accompanied by Joel Bisina, a Nigerian being held in custody with them. Bisina is the founder of a Warri-based NGO, Niger Delta Professionals for Development.

No communication has been received since Saturday April 12th, 8:30 am PDT. Family, friends and colleagues are making a plea for safe and immediate release.

No comments: