BRITISH journalists called yesterday for “disturbing” charges to be dropped against six US colleagues who were arrested while covering protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet called on people to contact the billionaire bigot in protest and to express solidarity with the sextet, who face up to 10 years behind bars.
The journalists, including a documentary producer, a freelance reporter and a live-streamer, have been charged with a felony under Washington DC state law against rioting.
A police arrest report for five of the six journalists reads: “Numerous crimes were occurring in police presence.
“The crowd was observed enticing a riot by organising, promoting, encouraging and participating in acts of violence in furtherance of the riot.”However no specific allegations have been made.
After appearing in court on Saturday, all six were released with further hearings set for February and March.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) warned Mr Trump against threats to press freedom and have also condemned the arrests.
IFJ general secretary Anthony Bellange said: “We strongly condemn these unfair arrests of our US colleagues who were observing and documenting the atmosphere following Trump’s inauguration.”
Ms Stanistreet said: “Journalism is not a crime. Journalists, including NUJ members, were on the ground on the day doing their job — documenting the wide range of events and protests linked to the inauguration.
“Arresting journalists is a disturbing move at the beginning of a new administration already mired in controversy, and we are calling on the authorities to drop the charges immediately.”The journalists deny any wrongdoing.