Office of the Vice President
September 11, 2008
We are deeply concerned about the welfare of translator Samuel George who has been under interrogation by State Security Services in Port Harcourt since August 31. He was arrested with American documentary filmmaker Andrew Berends while they were filming at the Nembe waterside in Port Harcourt. Joe Bussio, who provided accommodation for Berends in Port Harcourt during the filming, was also arrested. No official charges have been brought against any of them. Berends was finally allowed to leave the country on Tuesday.
George and Bussio are expected to report back to security tomorrow. Officials in Port Harcourt already questioned George for five days last week. Considering that Berends has been deported and no official charges have been issued, we urge you to ensure George and Bussio are immediately, unconditionally released.
On September 9, Senator Chris Anyanwu of Imo State wrote to the ministers of Information and Defense, urging them to assist in the immediate release of Berends and George. Anyanwu, a former journalist, called on the ministers to ensure that Nigeria maintains its current democratic credentials and never returns to its autocratic past during which journalists were targeted by the government.
CPJ supports Anyanwu’s principled effort to protect journalists. We call on you now to work with Nigerian authorities to ensure the release of Samuel George and Joe Bussio. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We wait for your reply.