July 22, 2019 / 5:48 AM / 3 months ago

Australia detains French TV crew filming anti-coal protest

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A French television reporter and his crew were arrested on Monday while filming protesters blockading a coal port in Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland.

French TV reporter Hugo Clement is seen in a police van after he was arrested while filming protesters blockading the Abbot Point coal port near Bowen, Queensland, Australia July 22, 2019. Frontline Action on Coal/Handout via REUTERS

Reporter Hugo Clément said he and his television crew from French public broadcaster France 2 were filming protesters blocking access to Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprise’s Abbot Point coal terminal for an environmental documentary about oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef.

“We were just doing our job. They say we were trespassing, but we were just filming in a public space. I was not blocking the railway,” Clément told Reuters by phone after being released on bail.

He said he and his crew would have moved had the police asked them to, but were instead just arrested and put in a police van. One of the cameramen was handcuffed after trying to continue to film when they were being arrested.

State police confirmed that seven people, including four French men aged 29, 30, 32 and 39, had been arrested and charged with trespassing on a railway at the Abbot Point coal terminal.

Police did not identify any of the seven.

Clément and his crew are due to appear at the state’s Bowen magistrates’ court on Sept. 3. He said he was not sure whether they would have to appear in person.

Police set bail terms banning the crew from going within 20 km (12 miles) of Adani’s Carmichael mine site or less than 100 meters from any other Adani site.

Adani’s Carmichael mine and rail project has been the target of protests for nearly a decade by protesters worried about coal’s impact on climate change and damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Opponents lost their battle in June when the company finally received approval to begin construction.

Adani, owner of the coal port, said it was aware of the protest but had no comment on the arrests.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel and Michael Perry

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