The Seattle-based film crew of Sweet Crude has been detained in Nigeria. The four member team was detained in the Niger Delta Saturday, and has been moved to the capital Abuja. The filmmakers are Tammi Sims, Cliff Worsham, D.P. Sean Porter, and the film’s director, NWFF advisory Board Member Sandi Cioffi.
I have just gotten off the phone with Executive Producer Menno Van Wyk, who is in Seattle. He said they have an excellent lawyer on the ground in Nigeria, and are lobbying US Senators for the release of the filmmakers.
A letter of support is being drafted, and we will keep you posted as the story unfolds.
Read the AP wire piece here.
The produciton’s press release follows:
CONTACT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leslye Wood, Press Secretary, Sweet Crude Movie
Phone: 206.282.0880 / 206.915.4339
Louise Rafkin, Studio Naga
American documentary filmmakers detained in Niger Delta
SEATTLE, April 13, 2008 – Four Americans have been detained and are being held in custody against their will in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. The four, along with a Nigerian citizen, were taken into custody by the Nigerian military April 12th, while traveling by boat in Delta state in the Niger Delta.
An attorney has been retained for the group but has been denied contact with them. He has also been denied information pertaining to what charges, if any, have been filed. Certain media accounts reported that the group was detained and held for their own protection. These reports are incorrect, and were disputed by members of the team before contact with them was cut off by the authorities.
The Seattle-based group are filming Sweet Crude, a documentary about oil production in the Níger Delta. Director Sandy Cioffi, Tammi Sims, Cliff Worsham and Sean Porter entered the country legally on April 5th, having notified authorities about their intentions to film and to make a visit to a library they had helped build.
The four were also being briefed on a leadership institute planned by Joel Bisina, the Nigerian in custody with them. Bisina is a longtime peace mediator and community development expert in the region, and founder of Warri-based NGO Niger Delta Professionals for Development.
No communication has been received since Saturday April 12th, 8:30 am PDT. Contact has been made with the U.S. State Department, U.S. lawmakers, Nigerian politicians and international human rights organizations, calling for help in securing the group’s safety. Family, friends and colleagues are making a plea for their immediate release.
Tags: Sweet Crude