Canadian Journalists Released; Claims Arrest Was Targeted

“My arrest and incarceration were punitive and a blatant attempt to repress images of police violence against Indigenous people in Canada,” Michael Toledano tweeted. “I have no doubt that my arrest was targeted. One officer who I encountered many times on Wetâ’suwetâ territory gloated about the arrest.”

But the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement that two people who later identified themselves as independent journalists were arrested after refusing to leave “building-like structures” near a drilling site for the natural gas pipeline, which is under construction.

The arrests came after members of the Gidimtâ clan, one of five in the Wetâ’suwetâ Nation, set up blockades along a forest service road Nov. 14.

Amber Bracken, photojournalist who had been on assignment for B.C.-based outlet The Narwhal, and documentary filmmaker Michael Toledano were released on the condition that they appear in court in February.

The Canadian Association of Journalists condemned the arrests of Bracken and Toledano. In an open letter signed by several dozen news outlets and press freedom organizations, it called on Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to “bring about a swift resolution respecting journalists’ fundamental rights.”