For whatever reason — be it covering protests, phone hacking or the commonly used disturbing the peace charge — journalists and jail cells aren’t exactly strangers. Some journalists are arrested for simply doing their jobs in difficult areas while others are actually breaking the law. With that in mind, here’s a list of some of the more prominent cases of journalists arrested in June alone.
Press Association Reporter Arrested for Phone Hacking
The latest journalist to be arrested is a 34-year-old Press Association reporter, who is rumored to be Laura Elston, according to the Guardian. On June 27, 2011, she was arrested “on suspicion of illegally accessing voicemail messages.” She is actually the fifth journalist the Metropolitan Police have arrested in the last few months in connection to a police inquiry into phone hacking.
Sam Mayfield, a freelancer journalist and filmmaker, was arrested on June 6, 2011, while covering the protests in Wisconsin. In her blog, Mayfield writes of the account, “We do not have to leave a public building simply because a man or a woman with a gun and badge tells us to do so. We are critical thinking individuals; we have the right, the ability and the obligation to challenge authority.” She was charged with disorderly conduct and fined $263.50. (Our sister blog, FishbowlLA covered the incident.)
Pete Tucker and Jim Epstein
Pete Tucker, of thefightback.org, and Jim Epstein, a Reason.tv producer, were arrested on June 22, 2011, while covering the D.C. Taxicab Commission, a public meeting. The Washington Post phrased it as, “Their alleged crimes involved them doing their jobs: recording the proceedings of a public body with photographs, video and audiotape.” The two were taking video and photos of the meeting, which the commission had previously banned. Epstein and Tucker are charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful entry and could be sentenced to nine months in jail and $1,250 in fines, according to a Business Insider story.
Somali Reporters Covering Mogadishu Protest
On June 13 and 14, 2011, three Somali reporters were arrested for covering protests in Mogadishu, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists. Two Radio Kulmiye reporters, Mohamed Amin and Ahmed Ali Kaahiye, along with Abdifatah Mohamed Hashi, a journalist from the popular Somali website Keymediai, were arrested but were later released with no charges filed against them. “The detention of journalists trying to cover protests is nothing but censorship and must stop,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. The Somali government must adhere to its charter which protects freedom of expression.”
Were these reporters just doing their jobs and unfairly arrested or did some of them cross the line? When is it OK for a reporter to be arrested?
Image from flickr user Vectorportal.