Three Filmmakers Arrested in Nigeria Return to Israel
i24News – Three Israeli filmmakers landed back in Israel Thursday morning after spending 20 days in a Nigerian prison.
Pro-Israel activist Rudy Rochman, filmmaker Noam Leibman and French-Israeli journalist E. David Benaym were released from prison Tuesday night with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in Abuja and handed over to US custody. They were then escorted to a Chabad center where they spent the night.
They departed Nigeria on Wednesday night for Istanbul and arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday morning.
Rochman, Liebman and Benaym were arrested while making a documentary on the Igbo Jewish community, who consider themselves a lost tribe of Israel but are not recognized as halachically Jewish by the State of Israel or the Chief Rabbinate.
Nigerian authorities on July 9 arrested and interrogated the men on suspicion of having coming into contact with Biafran separatists.
The group was detained at a synagogue during Friday night services in the Igbo village of Ogidi by Nigeria’s secret police and taken to Abuja.
They were in the West African country to shoot a documentary titled “We Were Never Lost,” which explores communities on the continent that claim Jewish or Israelite descent.
The team took off from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on July 5 and arrived in Nigeria the next day.
In a statement published on Instagram Wednesday night, the trio said that they were “wrongfully taken on Friday July 9th, 2021 at 7:30 AM (Nigerian time) to the local DSS facility in Anambra State, Nigeria where they were held for 24 hours before being transported to the DSS headquarters in Abuja, 9 hours away with dangerous trasport [sic].”
The DSS, or Department of State Services, is Nigeria’s internal security agency.