Journalist released after being arrested for BC pipeline dispute

A photojournalist and a documentary filmmaker were released by a Canadian judge three days after being arrested while reporting on the implementation of the police ban on pipeline protests in northern British Columbia

Prince George, British Columbia – A photojournalist and documentary filmmaker were released by a Canadian judge three days after being arrested while reporting on the implementation of the police ban on pipeline protests in northern British Columbia.

Amber Bracken and documentary director Michael Toledano were sent to The Narwhal, a BC media outlet. They were released on the condition that they appear in court in February.

The Canadian Journalists Association condemned the arrests of Brecon and Toledano. In an open letter signed by dozens of news media and press freedom organizations, it called on the Federal Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino to “swiftly make a resolution that respects the basic rights of journalists.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement that two people “later known as independent journalists” were arrested for refusing to leave “building-like structures” near the drilling site of a natural gas pipeline under construction.

On November 14, members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of the five members of the Wet’suwet’en ethnic group, set a blockade on a forest service road and arrested them.

Police said the road was cleared on Thursday.

Earlier last year, the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief opposed the 670-kilometer (416-mile) pipeline, triggering rallies and railroad blockades across Canada, and the Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal Electoral Commission and others in the vicinity have agreed to the project .

The hereditary chiefs signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal and provincial governments to ease the tensions so far.

Coastal GasLink said the pipeline will transport natural gas from Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia to Kitimat in British Columbia. Almost all routes have been cleared, and 200 kilometers (121 miles) of pipelines have been installed, and more than half of them have been completed.

When asked about the reporter’s arrest in Ottawa, Mendicino said that he or the government should not rule the case or direct the local police to conduct operations, but the important thing is that the reporter can work without interference.

Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Security in British Columbia, said that press freedom is essential to democracy and he hopes that the situation will not escalate.

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