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Police arrest, briefly detain journalists covering protests in Basel, Berne

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a media release of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

EFJ Protests Recent Arrest of Journalists in Switzerland

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, expressed its great concern today about the recent arrests by Swiss police of several journalists during peaceful demonstrations in Basel and Berne.

On 26 January, during a peaceful demonstration in Basel, the police arrested three journalists for several hours without giving any reason. The three journalists, a Polish reporter working for Le Monde Diplomatique, a reporter from the trade union newspaper Work and another reporter from the Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, identified themselves as journalists but were still arrested. The Polish journalist was held in custody for five hours, the others for a shorter period of time.

"Swiss police must not be allowed to stop journalists from doing their jobs," said EFJ Chair Arne König. "They must be granted access. Press freedom is a constitutional right in Switzerland and must be respected by everyone-- including the police".

On 19 January two journalists who were reporting on a demonstration in Berne were also arrested by police, who gave no reason for the arrest.

The EFJ affiliate, CoMedia, has supported the journalists in handing in a complaint against the Berne police, which accuses them of keeping the reporters in custody unlawfully and misusing their power.

The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe.

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