On July 16th at 7 AM on the coast of Namibia, award winning journalists Bart Smithers (South Africa) and Jim Wickens (United Kingdom) were physically assaulted and arrested for filming the Namibian seal cull. They are currently being held at Henties Bay Police Station. Both the South African and British Embassies have been informed and are demanding the release of the journalists.
The two men were filming the controversial hunt in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Western Namibia. They were attacked by the sealers who were wielding clubs for the purpose of killing seals. Wickens and Smithers were working with for Eco-Storm on a project regarding the cruel Namibian seal slaughter, in conjunction with Dutch NGO Bontvoordieren. Namibian authorities have confiscated their cameras and video.
Smithers produced the award-winning feature story on Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's 2005/2006 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign with South Africa 50/50, called "The Hunters Become Hunted". Smithers has long been involved in conservation journalism and is involved in EcoEye.org which aims to expose those who are damaging, exploiting and ultimately destroying our world for short term gain.
"In a time when the European Union has just banned the import of all seal products, Namibia refuses to join civilized society by continuing the senseless slaughter of seals and by clubbing to death any semblance of freedom of the press or freedom of speech. Bart and Jim are political prisoners and need to be released immediately," said Peter Hammarstedt, personal friend of Bart Smithers, and first mate of the M/Y Farley Mowat, Sea Shepherd's seal protection vessel. Canadian authorities seized the Farley Mowat after filming a seal being skinned alive in Canada last spring.
Please write to the Namibian embassy in your country demanding the release of the journalists and defend their efforts to expose the cruel Namibian seal slaughter to the world.