Florian Opitz was arrested in Nigeria by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) and has to appear in court today. He is accused of ‚endangering national security‘ and faces up to 14 years in prison.
Florian Opitz is a freelance documentary filmmaker, author and journalist. His last very successful documentary „The Big Sell-Out“
„is a political film. In various episodes the abstract phenomenon of privatisation is depicted in stories about very concrete human destinies around the globe. The documentary tells tragic, tragicomic but also encouraging stories of the everyday life of people, who day by day have to deal with the effects of privatisation politics, dictated by anonymous international financial institutions in Washington D.C. and Geneva, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).“
Arrested with him were filmmaker Andy Lehmann (Berlin), Danjuma Saidu (Nigeria) and Judith Asuni (US/Nigeria), doing research in the Niger delta for their next film. They were alledgedly taking pictures of oil refineries, pipelines and ships. The Niger Delta has seen many bloody conflicts about resources, oil revenue and distribution of wealth, often depicted as ‚ethic conflicts‘ by neighbouring tribes.
Judith Asuni has lived in the region for 36 years and works with the peace work NGO Academic Associates/PeaceWorks.
Update: According to Reuters, Florian Opitz and Andy Lehmann were released on bail today. Judith Asuni and Danjuma Saidu are still in prison in solitary confinement. All four pleaded non-guilty.
The Niger Delta moved in the focus of attention with the trial against Ken Saro-Wiwa, author, television producer, and environmentalist who received the Right Livelihood Award in 1994 and was nominated for the Peace Nobel Price in 1996. He was executed in 1995.
The German Journalist Association demands all four arrested to be released and calls the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene.
Florian Opitz has screened ‚The Big Sell Out‘ during the last Globale film festival in May in Berlin together with Andrej Holm, leading to a public debate about privatisation. Before he left to Nigeria he left us his card and said „Call me if there is anything I can do to help from from there.“ It’s up to us now to help free him.
- AllAfrica.com: Court Remands Asuni, Others in SSS Custody
- AllAfrica.com: FG Charges 3 Foreigners, Nigerian to Court
- BBC News:
Nigeria charges foreign detainees
- Voice of America: American Aid Worker, 2 Germans Detained as ‚Spies‘ in Nigeria’s Niger Delta
- Radio Lora: Interview with Hendrik Zörner of the Deutscher Journalistenverband (German Journalist Association) (audio)
- Monitor: Comment by Sonia Mikich (Video, click ‚In eigener Sache / Schlusswort‘)