Documentary filmmaker charged with conspiracy in pipeline protests

Oct 13 (Reuters) - A documentary filmmaker who was arrested while filming as protesters attempted to shut down the flow of oil through pipelines carrying crude from Canada to the United States was charged on Thursday with felony conspiracy.

Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change”, was charged along with activists Samuel Jessup and Michael Foster with conspiracy to commit theft of property and services.

Foster was also charged in the Pembina County, North Dakota criminal complaint with trespassing and criminal mischief. The complaint provides few details on the conspiracy charge beyond the filmmaker traveling in the same vehicle as Jessup and Foster.

All three appeared in court on Thursday morning for a bond hearing but remained in jail later that afternoon, said a spokeswoman for the Pembina County State’s Attorney Office.

An attorney for Schlosberg could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

Josh Fox, who produced “How to Let Go of the World” with Schlosberg, has said that she was not taking part in the demonstrations but was only filming them.

“Whatever you think about the protests, you cannot believe that a person who is simply reporting - freedom of the press, the First Amendment - shooting the protests should be arrested and their footage confiscated. This is an outrage,” Fox said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

Protesters on Tuesday broke into valve stations at five remote locations to stop the flow of crude through arteries that pump around 15 percent of the oil consumed in the United States every day.

Companies operating the pipelines shut down their lines for between five and seven hours as a safety measure before restarting them, according to Reuters estimates and company representatives.

The action on Tuesday underscored the vulnerability of the thousands of miles of pipeline in the United States that deliver energy to consumers.

Together, the pipelines have the ability to carry nearly 2.8 million barrels a day of crude across the Canada-U.S. border.

Fox has called Schlosberg’s arrest, along with that of actress Shailene Woodley at a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline near St. Anthony, North Dakota, an attack on the free press.

Woodley was taken into custody on Monday, along with 27 other protesters, on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office. She was later released on bond.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker