My name is Stefan Borghardt, I am 28 years old, I am from Germany and I study photojournalism. Since the end of last year I was working on a personal project on Fracking, in the areas of Vaca Muerta and the Upper Rio Negro Valley.
On Monday, January 7, at 6:00 p.m. I was walking through lot 56 of the company Treater Neuquén S.A. near Añelo, photographing the open pit oil dumps. I took several photos with the two professional cameras that I carried and managed to take four photos with my cell phone. There a supervisor grabbed me, took me to the entrance of the property in his truck and spoke by phone with his boss. He insisted that I delete the images and I pretended that I had taken all the photos on film. They called the police and took me to police station 10 in Añelo. During the journey, the officer who was sitting next to me, got on my cell phone playing voice messages and reading other personal messages sent and received on speakerphone, without my authorization.
Later, at the police station, they didn't let me use my phone either. In addition, they already had evidence that I was a journalist from my press card that had presented them to them. They made me leave all my things on top of the attention bar. They asked me a lot of questions while the officer made the record of my belongings. When he rushed me to sign it, I insisted on reading it calmly before putting my signature below, to make sure it was all properly documented. He got angry and took me to a dungeon, pushing and insulting me. I did not see a witness who had been called to sign the minutes for me. In the first dungeon they beat me, kicked me and an officer who mistreated me with a broom from afar told me that he hated all Germans. Another policeman insisted that I hurry to remove the laces from my sneakers, otherwise he would help me, and took a knife from his pocket to scare me. He also told me that if they told me to sign, I would have to sign and that things were not working out as I imagined. Throughout this process, I acted defensively, asking them not to hurt me.
After all this process, they took me to another cell, where I remained for about two hours. Officers would come to visit me every so often to ask me more questions. At no time did they give me the water I had asked for. A policeman even asked me about the value of my photographic equipment. They took me out of the jail at 10:20 p.m. (approx.) And took me back to the service bar, where I signed what I believe was the complaint against me, the statement of the time of my arrest and release and also the certificate, confirming that all my belongings had been returned to me. They informed me that all my photographic equipment had been kidnapped, but I signed anyway. I did not ask for a confirmation of the kidnapping or read any of the documents. I signed up to get out of the room instantly and not get in any more trouble. I had already learned the lesson that it was not the environment to claim my rights.
Here I share the photos that I managed to take with my cell phone and spread before they caught me. Taking into account the important work of my colleagues, it seems to me that these injustices should not happen without anyone knowing. I hope to be able to recover the equipment that are my work tools as a journalist.
I notified both the German embassy and international organizations about what happened.
I would be very grateful for any help spreading the word about the case to defend the freedom of the press.