Getty Images photographer Scott Olson (C) is arrested by a highway patrol officer during a protest for the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri© REUTERS/ Joshua Lott
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WASHINGTON, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – Arresting members of the press, covering the protests in Ferguson over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager is a gross violation of the right to free speech, the Freedom of the Press Foundation said.
“It should go without saying that these arrests are a gross violation of the reporters' First Amendment rights, and attempts to prevent journalists from lawfully doing their job on the streets of Ferguson are downright illegal,” a representative of the organization Runa Sandvik said in a press release on Tuesday.
Since August 13, eleven members of the press have been arrested attempting to cover the protests and events in Ferguson. Over just the past two days, six were arrested from the American media outlets Intercept, Getty Images, Breitbart News, as well as Austria’s Der Standard, and Germany’s Bild and Die Welt.
Sandvik called for an end to suppression of free speech and free press.
“We insist that the St. Louis County Police Department, Ferguson Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol cease and desist from violating the Constitutional rights of reporters covering the protests, and respect the court document they all signed agreeing that the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement.”
The suppression of the media in Ferguson has been highlighted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well.
“I call on the authorities to thoroughly review the circumstances behind these incidents and to ensure that journalists covering news in Ferguson can work freely and safely,” OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatović, stated in a Tuesday press release.
The Committee to Protect Journalists also urged to put an end to “the continued harassment and detentions of journalists covering the unrest in Ferguson” in a statement on Tuesday.
"Ferguson is an international story and journalists are going to cover it. They have a right to do so without fearing for their safety or liberty," CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney stressed.
"The harassment and detention of reporters must stop. From senior commanders on down, the word must go out to security forces to let journalists do their job," he added.
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