United States - Call for withdrawal of charges against three journalists manhandled and arrested outside Republican Party convention



    MONTREAL, Sept. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by
the way Amy Goodman, the host of the nationally-syndicated radio and TV
programme Democracy Now!, and two of her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and
Nicole Salazar, were manhandled and arrested by police while covering
demonstrations yesterday outside the Republican Party convention in St. Paul,
Minnesota.
    The press freedom organisation calls for an investigation into the
circumstances of their arrest and the immediate withdrawal of the charges
brought against them. Although quickly released, Goodman was charged with
obstructing a legal process and interfering with a police officer, while her
two producers were charged with "felony riot."
    "The violence used by the police when arresting these three journalists,
who identified themselves as such, was an unacceptable abuse of authority, a
violence of the First Amendment and a clear demonstration of a desire to
intimidate them and their news organisation," Reporters Without Borders said.
    "Democracy Now! has done a lot of very critical reporting about the war
in Iraq and it is no coincidence that three of its representatives were
treated like this," the press freedom organisation added. "The confirmation of
the charges against them compounds the original injustice with another one.
The police should be investigating their own ranks."
    The three journalists were arrested at about 5 p.m. during anti-war
demonstrations being staged by veterans and relatives of soldiers killed in
Iraq near the convention centre where the Republican Party is due to confirm
Sen. John McCain as its candidate for November's presidential election.
    Kouddous and Salazar were the first to be arrested by baton-wielding
police. Kouddous was slammed against a wall and then pinned to the ground.
Salazar was slammed to the ground. Kouddous sustained injuries to the chest
and back. Salazar sustained injuries to her face.
    Goodman was arrested when she asked the police why they had arrested her
colleagues. Although she identified herself as a journalist, her hands were
handcuffed behind her back and then she was led away, as can be seen in a
video sequence shot by a bystander.
    An Associated Press photographer, Matt Rourke, was also arrested at the
same time as several hundred demonstrators.
    A committed journalist who is very critical of the Republican government
and especially the war in Iraq, Goodman launched her Democracy Now! in 1996.
Produced in New York by a team of independent journalists, it is syndicated to
more than 700 radio and TV stations in the United States and abroad.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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