TORONTO, July 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
(CJFE) is deeply concerned about the RCMP's arrest under unusual
circumstances of New Brunswick-based journalist Miles Howe.
Howe was arrested on July 4, 2013, while covering the ongoing
anti-fracking protest at the Elsipogtog First Nation in east-central
New Brunswick. His camera and cell phone were seized. He was taken
into RCMP custody and held for five hours before being released with
his equipment returned.
According to Howe, an RCMP officer with whom he was acquainted
approached him and shook his hand. The officer then said he was placing
Howe under arrest for having uttered threats against the same officer
nearly two weeks earlier, on June 21, 2013. Howe says he was first
told he was being charged with "threats" and "resisting arrest," then
with "threats" and "evading arrest," and finally "threats" and
"obstruction of justice."
Howe, a reporter for the Halifax-based Media Co-op, is the only
journalist among at least 30 people who have been arrested in relation
to the protests. Members of Elsipogtog First Nation and supporters are
demonstrating against seismic tests being carried out by SWN, a company
currently exploring for shale gas in New Brunswick. Howe has told CJFE
that on June 30, prior to his arrest, he was approached by RCMP to
become a paid informant reporting on the Elsipogtog community, an offer
"Once again, we see the police using questionable tactics when dealing
with vulnerable communities," says CJFE board member and lawyer Philip
Tunley. "This appears to be another case of police impersonating
journalists, or attempting to conscript them during the policing of
Aboriginal protests. As such it is a serious violation of the freedom
of the press, and the freedom of expression of Aboriginal people
involved in public protest."
CJFE is also troubled by several aspects of the policing methods used in
the case, including:
the two-week delay between the alleged incident and the arrest;
the arrest being carried out by the officer claiming to have been
the confusion over the charges given the time elapsed since the alleged
the seizure of Howe's equipment, enabling police to search images and
text at will, without any warrant or other justification.
Taken together, these elements strongly suggest an attempt either to
gather information from Howe about the protests and related incidents
or to stop him from reporting about a controversial situation involving
the RCMP. Howe has been covering the protest for over a month.
CJFE calls for all charges against Miles Howe to be dropped.
Additionally, CJFE calls for a full and transparent investigation into
this incident and additional training for police officers on how to
deal with the media.
CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to
information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we
promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE
boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and
encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of
their own and others' free expression rights. www.cjfe.org
SOURCE: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
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