HAVANA TIMES – The New York City Police Department should drop all charges against photojournalist Amr Alfiky and provide a public explanation for his arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police arrested Alfiky, a photo editor at ABC news and a contributor to Reuters and The New York Times, at about 7 p.m. yesterday in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood as he was filming the arrest on the street of another individual, according to the journalist’s friend, Mostafa Bassim, who captured Alfiky’s arrest on video and spoke with CPJ in a phone interview.
Police held Alfiky at Manhattan’s seventh precinct station for about 3.5 hours, where he was given access to a lawyer and was released after being charged with disorderly conduct, according to Bassim and a report by the New York Daily News, a local daily.
Officers confiscated Alfiky’s press credential, a card issued by the city’s police to grant journalists’ access to restricted spaces, during the arrest and have not returned it, Bassim said.
“The New York Police Department should drop the charges against Amr Alfiky and return his press credential immediately,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “New York journalists should not have to worry about being arrested for doing their jobs.”
If convicted, Alfiky could face a fine of up to $250 and up to 15 days in prison under New York state law.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment. According to the New York Daily News, an NYPD spokesman said that Alfiky “refused to comply with repeated requests to step back” and did not identify himself as a journalist until after he was in custody. However, in Bassim’s video of the arrest, Alfiky can be heard repeatedly and loudly telling police officers that he is a journalist and offering to show his press credentials as the officers handcuffed him.