Alex Thompson was arrested Saturday afternoon while inquiring about his credentials to cover a Donald Trump event at the Omni Westside Hotel in Houston, Texas. VICE news had requested access to the event earlier in the week and was told their access was pending.
On Saturday when Thompson went inside the hotel lobby to ask Trump’s staff if his access had been granted, he was told by hotel management that if he did not leave he would be arrested. VICE reported that shortly afterward he was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
“This is yet another example of a press freedom violation at an event for the Republican presidential nominee, despite claims that his campaign would end its press blacklist, says Delphine Halgand, RSF’s US Director. It is unacceptable that these instances continue to occur in the country of the First Amendment. We call on the Omni Westside Hotel to immediately drop these charges against Thompson, who was just trying to do his job.”
The Trump campaign denied any knowledge or involvement of the incident in a statement.
A representative for Omni Hotels cited heightened security concerns as cause for Thompson’s arrest in a statement to VICE: “with the heightened security sensitivities surrounding candidates for national elected office, there are increased security protocols in place, which the Omni Houston Westside followed.”
This is the latest incident threatening freedom of the press on the campaign trail. Previously, both presidential candidates have restricted media access to campaign events, with Donald Trump taking these restrictions further than his Democratic counterpart, famously revoking the Washington Post’s credentials from all his events in June. He has repeatedly insulted and bullied reporters who portray him negatively or ask him tough questions, refused to participate in a republican debate because FoxNews refused to remove its reporter Megyn Kelly as a moderator, and called for the reform of libel laws to enable lawsuits against newspapers for “purposefully negative stories.”
The U.S. ranks 41 out of 180 countries on RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
Image credit: MANDEL NGAN / AFP