New York, September 16, 2008–CPJ condemns the ongoing harassment of translator Samuel George in Port Harcourt. Security services officers have ordered George to report to their offices on September 26, although no charges have been brought against him in the two weeks he has been made to report repeatedly.
George was working as a translator for U.S. filmmaker Andrew Berends when they were arrested by the military on August 31, and then transferred to the Nigerian State Security Services. Berends was detained for 36 hours and then was ordered to report daily to state security for 10 days before he was eventually deported on September 9 with no official charges brought against him. The security services kept George in custody for five days after the arrests, then ordered him to report to the security offices three times last week, George told CPJ. He has not been questioned, he said, and he has not been given a reason given for his detention.
According to Nigerian law, official charges must be brought within 48 hours.
“Samuel George has been targeted by the security services merely for helping a journalist carry out his professional work,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “The ongoing intimidation of George contravenes Nigerian law and must end immediately.”
Berends entered Nigeria in April to complete a documentary film about the Niger Delta region’s oil conflict called “Delta Boys,” sponsored by the New York-based Tribeca Film Institute. Berends previously directed a film about Iraq called “Blood of My Brother,” which was screened widely on the international festival circuit and earned a 2006 International Documentary Award.
George is a graduate of Port Harcourt University of Science and Technology and was working with Berends as a translator.
Another documentary film crew was detained this year by the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta region. The military arrested the film crew of “Sweet Crude” on April 12 and held them for a week on charges that were never substantiated.