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Media NUJ Donald Trump

Journalism union denounces ‘disturbing’ inauguration arrests as US press freedom called into question

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By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

January 25, 2017 | 3 min read

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the media to contact Donald Trump in condemnation of the arrests of at least six journalists covering the unrest surrounding the new president’s inauguration.

Donald Trump being sworn into office

Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Four of the journalists have been charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being targeted by police taking action against anti-Trump demonstrators.

The six known to have been arrested face up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted. They await further hearings in the coming months.

In total more than 200 people were arrested on Friday (20 January) as the new president was sworn into office. Those arrested have been charged with vandalizing property, including police cars. The police said that six officers suffered minor injuries.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which previously warned Trump against threats to press freedom following clashes with journalists during the presidential campaign, has called for the felony charges to be dropped.

The NUJ today (25 January) weighed in on the issue, calling on union members and media workers to tweet Donald Trump to condemn the arrests and express solidarity with colleagues.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of NUJ, said: "Journalism is not a crime. Journalists, including NUJ members, were on the ground on the day doing their job - documenting the wide-range of events and protests linked to the inauguration.

“Arresting journalists is a disturbing move at the beginning of a new administration already mired in controversy, and we are calling on the authorities to drop the charges immediately."

An NUJ spokesperson added: “We are calling on Donald Trump to support press freedom and freedom of expression, these are fundamental to his country’s democracy. Journalists face many challenges reporting on Trump and the arrests that took place on his first day in the job are deeply troubling.

"He has a responsibility to allow the national press as well as foreign media and UK journalists to do their work."

Media NUJ Donald Trump

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