News

June 19, 2017

RSF’s #WeeklyAddress on US press freedom: Week of June 12-18

Below are the most notable stories regarding threats to press freedom in the U.S. during the week of June 12 - 18:

1. Two journalists were among the 18 arrested on I-94 in Minneapolis during a “standoff” early Saturday morning, June 17, between law enforcement and those protesting the acquittal of the police officer who shot Philando Castile. The Minnesota Daily’s David Clarey and the City Page’s Susan Du were arrested at around 12:40 a.m. on Saturday and were held in Ramsey County’s Adult Detention Center until the morning. They were charged with unlawful assembly and being a public nuisance.


2. The director of the Senate Radio and Television Gallery told television reporters on Tuesday, June 13, that they would no longer be allowed to film interviews in the Senate hallways. This action, which breaks from longstanding tradition in Washington, was quickly reversed following concerns raised by reporters, lawmakers and free speech advocates about reporters’ access to U.S. government officials.


3. CNN and USA Today announced on Thursday, June 15, that they filed lawsuits against the FBI for failing to respond within the time required by federal law to their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s memos. The New York Times filed its own lawsuit on Friday, June 16. The FBI, which tightened restrictions of the FOIA requests it would accept earlier this year, is notoriously difficult to work with when it comes to such requests. Citing a law enforcement exemption, the FBI formally denied CNN’s FOIA request on Friday.


4. On Thursday, June 15, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held an off-camera press gaggle that explicitly prohibited audio recordings. This is concerning, as it contradicts Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim in an email to CNN in March that audio recording of off-camera briefings “is always allowed."


5. A court security officer handcuffed a reporter on Wednesday, June 14, while he attempted to take picture of an arrest happening in the hallway of a New York county courthouse. Douglass Dowty, a reporter from Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard, was ordered to hand the Onondaga County Courthouse security officer his cellphone prior to being handcuffed. He was not charged, and was in police custody for about 10 minutes before being released.