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Miles Howe, a reporter for independent media organization Media Co-op, was arrested during anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick on July 4. RCMP charged him with uttering threats against a police officer. He was later released.
 

Miles Howe, a reporter for independent media organization Media Co-op, was arrested during anti-fracking protests in New Brunswick on July 4. RCMP charged him with uttering threats against a police officer. He was later released.

Media Co-op said in its initial statement on the arrest that Howe’s arrest was “a blatant effort to silence his ongoing coverage of the struggle against seismic testing related to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick.”

The CBC reported that the charge was laid over an alleged incident that took place on June 21. No other details of this incident are available.


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The Canadian Association of Journalists is calling for a better explanation from the RCMP on why Howe was arrested.

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"It's inexcusable police would detain any journalist for doing their jobs," CAJ president Hugo Rodrigues said in a release. "If Mr. Howe has broken any laws that would require his arrest, that information should be put before the public as quickly as possible as it comes before the courts." 

A report published by Media Co-op Friday said Howe spoke with police twice between June 21 and July 4 and no mention was made of charges against him. The report said police contacted Howe seeking information about a fire he witnessed on June 25.

The report also quoted Howe as saying police offered him money for information about the ongoing protests against plans for shale gas fracking in the area.

Media Co-op said Howe was the 30th person to be arrested during the protests. The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN), whose reporter Jorge Barrera was with Howe when he was arrested, reported that War Chief John Levi of the Elispogtog First Nation was charged with obstruction in connection with Howe’s arrest.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) has expressed concern about the incident. In a statement, CJFE said it was troubled by several aspects of the matter, including the two-week delay between the alleged incident and the arrest; the arrest being carried out by the officer claiming to have been threatened; the confusion over the charges given the time elapsed since the alleged incident; and the seizure of Howe’s equipment, enabling police to search images and text at will, without any warrant or other justification.

Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.