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Released American Peace Activist Shocked by Her Arrest


An American peace activist, released this week in Nigeria after security breach charges filed against her were dropped, says she was shocked by her ordeal. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa in Abuja has more.

American-born Judith Asuni has been based in Nigeria for 36 years. She has American and also Nigerian citizenship. Her work in the West African country has included disarmament and demobilization projects in which Niger Delta militants are encouraged to hand over their weapons and pursue dialogue.

She and Danjuma Saidu, her Nigerian co-worker, were arrested in the oil-rich Niger Delta in September and accused of helping two German film makers gain access to sensitive oil installations and of advising them to lie to obtain visas to visit Nigeria.

Nigerian prosecutors announced Wednesday plans to drop the charges, in what they say is in "the public interest."

The 60-year-old Asuni has insisted she was a victim of a plot by government officials. She told VOA her arrest and prosecution was a great shock.

"I was shocked, absolutely shocked. And, it is going to take some time to recover from that, because I chose this country and worked so hard for it," Asuni said.

Asuni is expected back in court, Monday, for the official termination of the case. The German film makers returned home last week.

Nigerian officials are now eager to tap into Asuni's contacts in the delta to help in resolving the intractable crisis in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. She says she is willing to work with the authorities again.

"It seems like they might better be using my network to solve the problem rather than to try to intimidate us," Asuni said.

Nigeria's oil industry has faced waves of assaults, in the past two years.