Spike Jonze detained in Yemen
According to the New York Post, filmmaker Spike Jonze, Vice magazine founder Shane Smith and a film crew were detained in Yemen while filming for an MTV investigative series that premieres Dec. 6 entitled "The Vice Guide to Everything." The crew avoided jail and retrieved their footage with an $8,000 bribe. The crew was searching for members of al-Qaeda when Yemeni authorities detained them.
"Most of these places, you can bribe your way out of for a couple hundred bucks," Smith told the Post Sunday.
Currently in production, the new MTV series has been described as "60 Minutes" meets "Jackass." The production team is traveling throughout the world to document unique and sometimes dangerous lifestyles, including the Russian mafia, car thieves, underground strip clubs, illegal border crossings and more.
Because the crew has been filming in somewhat dangerous locations, each crew member was outfitted with $100 bills to bribe officials in case of arrest.
The Republic of Yemen is located on the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia. According to the U.S. Department of State, al-Qaeda is actively engaged in terrorist activities in the country and U.S. citizens visiting the country remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Over the past several years, members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Yemen, including recent suicide bombings, attempted hijackings and in September of 2008, a direct attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, which resulted in the death of one U.S. citizen, an Embassy guard and several Yemeni personnel.
International journalists traveling in Yemen are required to have a journalist's visa. It is unclear whether the production crew had the specific visa or if they successfully found members of al-Qaeda.
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