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» 17.11.2009 - Media warns legislators against enacting anti-media law
» 06.10.2009 - UNESCO chief condemns killing of Nigerian editor
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» 04.09.2008 - Nigeria president's health under spotlight
» 03.09.2008 - Journalist and media worker detained in Nigeria

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Human rights | Media

US filmmaker released in Nigeria

afrol News, 10 September - Nigerian authorities yesterday released United States documentary filmmaker and journalist, Andrew Berends, after 10 days of detention, for allegedly spying in Nigeria's restive oil-rich Niger Delta.

American was arrested in Port Harcourt with his Nigerian translator Samuel George as well as a businessman on 31 August.

While Mr Berends (36) was being deported back to US, Mr George was reportedly ordered to return to government security agency today.

"I can confirm that Andrew Berends has been released," a senior police officer in Rivers state told media but declined to give details.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was "relieved" Mr Berends had been released, but said he had been interrogated for 10 consecutive days by police.

RSF said the American had been arrested "just for doing his job and no other reason."

"The translator and businessman have been temporarily released yesterday but are still scheduled to report back to the security services tomorrow," RSF said today.

The nonprofit organisation said it had confirmed the news through two US state department officials, but his friends were still waiting to speak with him directly.

Mr Berends, who grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, had been filming a documentary about conflict in oil-producing Niger Delta when he was detained.

Ordeal reportedly continued even after temporary release over weekend, when he continued to report to government security forces for daily interrogations.

"We believe he's on the plane," his producer, Aaron Soffin, said last night, "but we're really just waiting to hear his voice, outside of Nigeria, to be confident."

In April, four US documentary makers and their Nigerian fixer were held for six days on similar charges and in September last year two German journalists and a US activist were detained for two weeks.

Niger Delta is Nigeria's oil hub where armed militant groups, demanding greater control of region's oil wealth by locals, regularly attack installations and kidnap local and expatriate workers.

Unrest has reduced Nigeria's oil output by a quarter, causing it to lose its position as Africa's biggest oil producer to Angola, according to Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

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