British police arrested journalists, reporters at protest
It wouldn't be the first time British police cracked down on free speech.
British police were roundly criticized for arresting journalists as they covered environmental protests, as they detained a radio reporter, photographer, and documentary filmmaker on Monday and Tuesday.
Just Stop Oil, an activist group, chained themselves to gantries over the M25 motorway, a very busy road with heavy traffic.
Read next: Environmental protesters block service stations on M25 for second day
Despite showing her press card, Charlotte Lynch was arrested on a nearby motorway bridge. According to LBC radio, she was handcuffed, driven to a police station, and held for 5 hours before being released.
"The only question was how I knew to be there," said Lynch, who said that police were suspicious of her causing conspiracy to cause public chaos.
"I was just doing my job," she added, calling it a "terrifying" assault on press freedom."It was blindingly obvious I was a reporter."
The two other journalists said they had their equipment taken from them, while one said that the British police searched his house. Just Stop Oil's goal is to end British oil and gas exploration; the group has been engaging in disruptive protests for weeks.
The British police are being criticized for pre-emptively arresting Just Stop Oil protesters.
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Hertfordshire Police defended its behaviors, saying it had "grounds" to hold the journalists in custody "in order to verify their credentials and progress our investigation". In response, the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) called the arrest a "breach of journalists' rights."
"Journalists have every right to protect sources and should not be pressured into revealing private communications," it added.
"A press card presented by any journalist to police officers should be respected, and any effort to undermine journalists' work ultimately threatens press freedom."
Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the civil liberties group Liberty, called the arrests "very, very serious".
"If the police are now going to start arresting journalists for conspiracy to commit a public nuisance -- in other words for knowing a demonstration is about to take place -- then they are effectively shutting down the free press," she told LBC.
Read next: A Crackdown on Democracy: UK's New Bill Suppresses Free Speech
Julian Assange remains in prison
This is not the first time that the UK has launched an assault on the freedom of press for political purposes. Scores of journalists from around the world have protested the UK's imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is fighting attempts to extradite him to the US.
Tim Dawson, of the National Union of Journalists of Britain and Ireland said back in June, "If Julian Assange can be threatened with prosecution as a spy, what might that mean for other journalists?"
On June 22, fifteen international journalist and publisher unions and organizations convened in Geneva for a "call to free Julian Assange in the name of press freedom."
Dominique Pradalie, head of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which has 600,000 members across 140 countries said, "We are demanding that Julian Assange be freed, returned to his family, and finally permitted to live a normal life."
Last year in January, Assange's sentencing or punishment was postponed when reports arose that he was feeling suicidal as he was kept in maximum-security solitary confinement at a Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).