|Law enforcement officers line the street in front of the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan, N.D., as Dakota Access Pipeline protesters stand on the opposite side of the street on Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. The protesters gathered in support of journalist Amy Goodman before her court hearing on a rioting charge while covering the protesters in September. A SouthCentral District judge dismissed the charge. (Mike Mccleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)|
NEW YORK (AP) — A media watchdog is calling on prosecutors in North Dakota and Washington state to drop charges against three documentary filmmakers arrested while filming protests against oil pipelines.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday the filmmakers were arrested Oct. 11 as participants in a multistate protest and were charged with a range of felonies.
CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney says recording civil disobedience and arrests is news-gathering, not conspiracy. He says prosecuting filmmakers for covering protests sends a chilling message. He says he wants authorities to "stop interfering with journalists doing their jobs."
The arrests came shortly after another journalist filming protests against a North Dakota pipeline project was charged with trespassing.
North Dakota prosecutors have no comment. Washington prosecutors haven't responded to a request for comment.