September 5, 2008

American Filmmaker Arrested in Nigeria

On August 31, a New York-based freelance filmmaker and journalist, Andrew Berends, and his interpreter were arrested and accused of spying while working in the oil-producing Delta region of Nigeria. Berends' passport and equipment were confiscated and he was taken into custody by Nigeria's State Security Service.

Unfortunately, Berends is not the only journalist to be detained while working in the Niger Delta. Our very own photojournalist Ed Kashi was arrested at gunpoint by a Nigerian Naval task force (and later handed over to the S.S.S.) for photographing a flow station from the river without permission. Ed was detained for six days before he was finally released.

The New York Times accurately describes the Niger Delta in its September 3, 2008 article "American Filmmaker Arrested in Nigeria."

"Despite its oil riches, the Niger Delta is a desperately poor increasingly lawless part of the country, where wealth is siphoned away by corrupt officials. Militants demand a greater share of the area's oil resources and claim to be fighting on behalf of the impoverished residents, but also appear to be engaging in many criminal acts of violence. Hundreds of foreign workers and wealthy Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom, and oil theft is rampant."

The Agip flow station in Nembe, located in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa,
where Ed Kashi and his interpreter were arrested in June 2006.

Go to to learn more about the Niger Delta, see Ed Kashi's photos of the region, and to read his journal entries written during his detention (listed under the "EXTRAS!" tab). You can also click on the "Curse of the Black Gold" video listed under the column FILM at the top-right of this page.