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Several more journalists covering Republican Party Convention arrested, others released

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 3 September 2008 IFJ press release:

IFJ Condemns Police Targeting of Journalists at US Republican Party Convention

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the arrest of at least seven journalists covering protests outside the US Republican Party convention and called for the release of three journalists still being held and for all charges against them to be dropped.

"It is shocking to hear of arrests and attacks on journalists in the United States, where freedom of the press is enshrined in the country's Constitution and has always been touted as one of the cornerstones of US democracy," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "All of our colleagues had the right to cover the protestors at the convention and have done nothing illegal. We are calling on police to release the journalists immediately and without charge."

The seven journalists were arrested on Monday in the city of St. Paul, where the Republicans are officially nominating their Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. They were arrested by police in the midst of mass arrests of protestors staging demonstrations outside of the convention.

Other independent journalists have been pepper-sprayed and even held at gunpoint during "pre-emptive" raids aimed at disrupting protesters, said US media reform group Free Press.

Amy Goodman, the host of the Democracy Now! television and radio show, was arrested after trying to get information about two producers from her show, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were arrested while filming protestors. A photographer for the Associated Press, Matt Rourke, was also arrested at about the same time.

The Democracy Now! journalists and Rourke were released hours after being arrested. Goodman was officially charged with "obstruction of a legal process and interference with a peace officer."

Student journalists Edward Matthews and Britney McIntosh from the University of Kentucky and a university newspaper advisor James Winn were also arrested while taking photos of demonstrators. All three had press credentials with them. They are still awaiting formal charges and may be released today, according to reports.

The Newspaper Guild-CWA, a US affiliate of the IFJ, said it is joining with Free Press and other organizations in demanding that all charges be dropped against the journalists arrested while covering the Republican Convention and related protests in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"It appears that law enforcement over-reacted in its handling of mostly peaceful protests, in the number of people arrested, especially those that were covering the protests for purposes of reporting on them," the Newspaper Guild said in a statement. "The courts will determine whether the small number of apparently non-law-abiding protestors was properly arrested, but there is no justification for the broad arrests that included journalists."

Click here to sign the Free Press online petition calling for charges to be dropped against the journalists: p44b&cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=281

Updates alert on wave of arrests at Republican Party convention:

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