December 23, 2008


-I will try to present only the facts, keeping all opinions to myself.-

We arranged for 4 of us to meet on the beach in Sumgayit with the plan to hike
from there, along the beach as much as possible, to my home in Tagiyev where
could have dinner. We met as planned, purchased some items to make a picnic
lunch and set out down the beach.
At one place we found the "Titanic" a ship from the Soviet times that has been
grounded on the beach and has become a rusted-out hulk, half-sunk in the
ocean, apparently popular with fisherman and tourists.
Further down the beach we found some "streams" and impassable swampland so we
walked into the city, found the main road between the two cities and followed it.
Its about 25mn by marshrut....approximately 7km. Roughly halfway there is
the regional power station and a few large factories. One of these factories
is near the beach and has a line a few rusty cooling towers that look like
those in the Simpsons and beyond that a tall tower that has flame shooting out
the top like a methane vent on an oil field or refinery which can be seen for
miles around.
As tourists do(oops, that's opinion isn't it?), we took pictures of all the interesting things we had never seen
before. After one of our number took a picture of the afore mentioned towers
with his large camera we discovered that a police officer was calling out to
us from behind. We spoke with him for a bit and learned that taking pictures
of the factory was forbid en. We thanked him for his concern and for teaching
us of this prohibition and prepared to continue our hike. Another officer came
in a car, then another, then a few plainclothes men. Our language abilities being
insufficient for the situation we called the PC Security Director. The
Security Director spoke with the police over the phone and our cameras were
taken from our possession. There was some confusion about what we were to do.
Another phone call was made and the Security Director said we were to accompany the police officer in his car
to the local station to fill out an incident report, that there was no problem and
it would all be taken care of quickly. The 4 of us piled into the backseat of
an old Russian Lada that was big enough for 2 and we rode down what would have been the rest of our hiking path,
threw my town to the police station on the other side.
At the police station we met a number of police officers who asked a number of
questions. Our language abilities were tested...the officers ability to speak
English was tested. We had had the same polite conversation with a large number
of officers. We had the same conversation with a number of officers all asking
roughly the same questions. One officer after the other, 5-8 officers in all, with
other listening and occasionally throwing in their own question. Every officer had to
ask for himself the same questions and take notes in his own notebook.
After a few more phone calls it was determined that our Security
Director and Staff Director would have to come to the station from Baku to
facilitate the events.
Tea was not available in the police station so we partook of our picnic lunch
and drinks in the offices of the police station. Though tempted we did not
drink the bottle of wine we had purchased to accompany our lunch.
3hours after meeting the first officer and 2.25hrs after arriving at the station
our representatives arrived to facilitate and translate. Incident reports
were finished and after our representatives fully translated its contents and
assured of its acceptability we each signed individual reports, the pictures
were deleted from the large camera and the we were free to go. Though requested
we were not allowed to keep copies of our incident reports.

When I arrived home I explained the events of the day to my host family. Not
knowing much of the vocabulary I had to do allot of miming. There was much

One week later I began to receive text messages from various sources; the
national news service had reported in print and on tv that 4 Americans had
been detained for taking pictures of "strategic sites" and suspicious activities.
While the name of the organization with which we are affiliated was not mentioned our
names were published and said on tv(mostly incorrectly).

To clear up some questions folk have asked -
We were NOT arrested.
No handcuffs were involved.
We never even got to see the cells. We sat in offices the entire time.
From the first cop encounter to walking out of the station it all took 5-6hrs.

US citizens photographed government facility in Azerbaijan arrested

[ 21 Nov 2008 18:35 ]
Hafiz Heydarov-APA. US citizens photographed the government facility were arrested in Azerbaijan.

Law-enforcement bodies told APA Corey Stevens, 27, Brandon Rene Houser, 26, Amanda Kay Bruno, 23 and Chris Paul, 28 were detained while taking pictures of Synthesis-Rubber Factory of state-run Azerkimya Company in Sumgayit.
The US citizens were sent to the Ministry of National Security after the preliminary testimony.

Sumgayit City Police Office confirmed the fact and told APA that the US citizens were detained for photographing the Synthesis-Rubber Factory several days ago and sent to the Ministry of National Security.

This is a link to the article:

For the perspective of another of us miscreants go to - Corey's Blog


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