CPJ Calls on Canadian Police to Release Detained Journalists

Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en Nation indigenous group, who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, protest outside the provincial headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, on January 16, 2020. In early February, the RCMP prevented journalists from covering the takeover of an indigenous protest camp. (Reuters/Jesse Winter)

HAVANA TIMES -The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed grave concern about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s arrest and detention yesterday of two journalists covering land rights protests in northern British Columbia.

Photojournalist Amber Bracken, who was on assignment for the environmental news outlet the Narwhal, and independent documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano were covering ongoing demonstrations against the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Indigenous Wet’suwet’en territory at the time of their arrests, according to the Canadian Association of Journalists. The CAJ says both journalists are still in custody.

Narwhal editor Emma Gilchrist told CPJ via email that Bracken is being held in jail until a bail hearing on Nov. 22. CPJ was unable to confirm the whereabouts of Toledano, who, according to the CAJ, has been living in Wet’suwet’en territory as a member of the media for the last three years to make a documentary about events there.

“We are alarmed by the overnight detention of two journalists by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” said CPJ U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. “The RCMP should immediately release Amber Bracken and Michael Toledano and offer a full explanation as to why they were detained in the first place.”

The RCMP did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email or voicemail requesting comment.

As CPJ has previously documented, the RCMP has previously restricted media access to demonstrations on both Wet’suwet’en territory and territory belonging to other First Nation groups.

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