Journalists Attacked and Arrested Whilst Covering Namibian Seal Hunt
A British investigative journalist and his South African fixer have on Thursday been violently assaulted by seal hunters and arrested by police whilst documenting the controversial Nambian seal cull.
Jim Wickens, a reporter with the Brighton-based Ecostorm agency, and Bart Smithers, a freelance cameraman and fixer, were yesterday 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 Bont voor Dieren, 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 7 A.M. yesterday 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."
Animal Friends Croatia, together with a growing number of international campaigners, is joining Bont voor Dieren in their call for the immediate release of the pair from police custody.