Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
A spokesperson for the Seattle-based film crew released from jail in Nigeria Wednesday, including a Joplin High School graduate, said the crew had contacted her by telephone Thursday. It was the first time she had spoken to them since they were jailed Saturday. “We have heard from them,” Leslye Wood said Thursday. “It’s been great to hear their voices.” Wood said the crew was put up in a hotel in Nigeria. Film director Sandi Cioffi, 46, Cliff Worsham, 39, Sean Porter, 25, and Joplin graduate Tammi Sims, 35, said they are fine and are scheduled to go through their final processing by the Nigerian government today. “Once they complete that step, yes, we think, they will be able to return home,” Wood said. “All we know is we’ve heard from them, they’re fine, they’ve been relocated to a hotel and we hope to have closure (today).” The crew, working on filming some final footage for a documentary about oil production in Nigeria, “Sweet Crude,” was detained and jailed Saturday. Wood said she had no information about why they were detained. “They never had any charges filed against them,” she said. The offices of U.S. Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced Wednesday the crew and Nigerian citizen Joel Bisina, a peace mediator and founder of a professional development organization who was with the film crew and also detained, had been released. Tester said in a telephone press conference Thursday that the senators had been in contact with the crews’ families ever since they heard of the imprisonment and had worked for their release, and would continue to monitor the situation. “The Nigerian government has taken the appropriate steps so far and we hope it will continue,” he said. “They’re still not out of the country.” Baucus also said he would continue to work for their return. “Today’s news is encouraging, however there is still a ways to go before this is all over,” Baucus said in a press release Wednesday. “I’ll continue to work together with Jon and the U.S. and Nigerian governments until Tammi and her colleagues are safe and sound and back with their loved ones.” Wood said the documentary is in postproduction and the film crew’s trip to Nigeria was the latest of several trips to the country. Cioffi has produced or directed several films, including the critically acclaimed “Crocodile Tears,” “Terminal 187” and “Just Us,” and is a tenured professor in the Film and Video Communications Department at the Seattle Central Community College, Wood said. Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.