New Jersey Resident arrested in his native country Nigeria since August he was arrested again in court by the Nigerian state police after being briefly released from state custody on Thursday.
Omoyele Sowore, who lives in Haworth, was scheduled to stand trial Friday on charges following his arrest on August 3 while organizing a peaceful protest for democracy in the city of Lagos.
His family and friends expected him to return home soon, but the latest developments obscure the scene.
His wife said on Friday that she was not only worried about her husband, but about the two children who could not see their father at Christmas.
"My 10-year-old daughter has on his Christmas list one of the things he wants is for his father to be home for Christmas," said Opeyemi Sowore, speaking at an impromptu press conference at Senator Bob Menendez's office, DN.J.
"Christmas is just a few days away," she said. "What do I tell him when I get out of here?
Sowore was in court on Friday to face several charges, including insulting President Muhammadu Buhari, treason, money laundering and cyberstalking. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Sowore was detained in a prison in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, although a judge twice ordered the Nigerian Department of State Services to release him after he met bail conditions on both occasions.
Online news agency Sahara Reporters, founded by Sowore and critic of the Nigerian government under the Buhari government, reported Friday that Sowore and another defendant, Olawale Bakare, were in court when State Department officials " stormed the site and disrupted the site, leading to hours of deadlock and tension around the site. "
The news agency also reported that new charges were filed against the two men, but their lawyer, Feme Falana, had no details about these charges.
Menendez on Friday condemned Sowore's arrest as a "blatant judicial error … symptomatic of the closure of political and media space in Nigeria."
Menendez said in a statement: "I am outraged by the blatant harassment of Omoyele Sowore, an activist and journalist whose only crime seems to be exercising her right to freedom of expression."
The new arrest came a day after the Abuja Supreme Court ruled for the third time that the 48-year-old journalist was bailed and should be released.
Opeyemi said in a statement on Friday:
“Today was a turning point in Nigeria's history, unlike anything its democracy has ever seen. In just 24 hours, the world has witnessed Nigeria's democracy further disintegrate with misuse of power and an outrageous display of illegality.
"After the judge suspended the court until February 11, and she reaffirmed my husband's freedom, chaos ensued. DSS armed agents strangled and struck Yele hard in an attempt to arrest him. The judge fled the court for your own safety. Brutally. " force, the DSS agents managed to take my husband again. "
She said, "Sowore's life depends on a global outcry, his defense and intervention."
Menendez said his office is working with the State Department and Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard in Abuja in a joint effort to secure Soware's release.
Menendez and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., wrote a letter last month to the US embassy head of mission, Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor, raising concerns about "assaulting and detaining journalists" in Nigeria and specifically citing the case of Sowore
At the news conference, Menendez said he would continue to work not only for Sowore's release but also for his return to the United States.
"We are here to ask the government of Nigeria to release Mr Sowore immediately. New Jersey is watching. The United States is watching. The world is watching," Menendez said. "This is unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy."
Ricardo Kaulessar is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com.