Nettime — Florian Opitz facing 14 years of prison in Nigeria

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Florian Opitz facing 14 years of prison in Nigeria
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 ‘ethnic conflicts’ by neighbouring tribes. Judith Asuni has
lived in the region for 36 years and works with the peace work NGO
Academic Associates/PeaceWorks.
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