been violently assaulted by seal hunters and arrested by police whilst
documenting the controversial Nambian seal cull.
Smithers, a freelance cameraman and fixer, were this morning attacked by
a group of seal hunters armed with clubs before having their video camera
equipment stolen in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Western Namibia.
The team, working with Dutch NGO Bontvoordieren, are understood to have
been filming the killing of seals for some twenty minutes before a group
of hunters approached and assaulted them - reportedly punching them to the
ground and hitting them with clubs.
Their cameras and video footage were also seized in the incident, which
happened about 7am this morning.
Police subsequently arrived before arresting the pair on suspicion of
trespass and obstruction.
According to Jim Wickens, a seal hunter again attacked them whilst they
were being held in a police vehicle.
They pair are currently being held at a local police station.
Andrew Wasley, co-director of Ecostorm, said: "We are at present working
with the British High Commission in Namibia to establish the full picture
and secure the release of our team. Clearly this was a violent and
unwarranted attack on two journalists doing their job - gathering
information and pictures of the highly secretive Nambian seal hunt."
He continued: "As well as calling for the immediate release of Jim Wickens
and Bart Smithers we want the Namibian authorities to investigate the
assaults and theft of equipment"
Bontvoordieren - and a growing number of international campaigners - are
calling for the immediate release of the pair from police custody.
PLEASE CONTACT :
Andrew Wasley (Ecostorm) +44 (0)7977 239406 email@example.com
Claudia Linssen (Bontvoordieren) +31 206766600 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ecologist Film Unit
Brighton Media Centre,
21 -22 Old Steine,
Brighton, BN1 1EL
tel: +44 (0) 1273 648945 / 648944
mob: +44 (0) 7977 239406