SYDNEY (International Federation of Journalists/Pacific Media Watch): The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, Australia's Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), have joined Reporters Without Borders in condemning the arrest of a French television crew and demanded all charges be dropped.
The crew of the public broadcaster France 2 was charged on Monday with trespassing while covering a protest against Australian coal mining giant Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in northern Queensland.
French journalist Hugo Clement and three crew members were arrested about 7am on July 22 for trespassing over a railway line at the entrance to Adani’s Abbot Point coal-loading facility.
Clement, who is well known in France for his documentaries about climate change and environmental issues, was filming a protest by activist group Frontline Action on Coal with his TV crew after reports that Adani would begin clearing land on Galilee Basin mine site this week.
After spending several hours in a cell, Clement and his crew were released on conditional bail, including prohibiting them from going within 20km of the Carmichael site and going 100 metres from any other Adani site.
They are all due to appear in Bowen Magistrates Court on September 3.
The president of the MEAA media section, Marcus Strom, said the charges against the French journalists reporting on a protest at the Abbot Point terminal should be dropped.
“Journalists should be free to go about their work reporting on matters in the public interest and should not be arrested for simply doing their job,” Strom said in a statement.
“The Queensland police should provide a full explanation of why a clearly identifiable French TV crew was arrested. Now that their bona fides have been established any charges should be dropped,” said Strom.
Queensland police released a statement which said the organisation “supports lawful and peaceful protest and is committed to working with groups to plan and facilitate lawful activities.”
The IFJ said:“The charges against the French journalist Hugo Clement and his TV crew from France 2 are ungrounded and should be dropped immediately.
"Freedom of press is increasingly being jeopardised in Australia and therefore we must continue to stand up for journalists rights.”