Press non-freedom in the US [Video]

By Staff Report | June 14, 2012 | Russia Today

With Occupy Wall Street shedding light on police brutality and arrests that the US has not seen in a while, America has also seen journalists getting arrested – for simply having a press pass that the police doesn’t deem appropriate.

How is this affecting the state of press freedom in the country?

Dramatic scenes unfolding in the US during Occupy Wall Street clashes with police have been a must-cover event for a journalist. Kirill Belyaninov – a correspondent for a Russian daily newspaper Kommersant – got arrested while reporting on the protests. No muss – no fuss.

“They just put handcuffs on me. I tried to tell him that I am a journalist. He pulled out my State Department accreditation and asked whether I have a New York police one. Unfortunately, that one expired,” explained Kirill.

The reporter has been working in the US for the last three years.

“Whatever proof you have – they don’t really care. It’s just business, and your credentials can’t really protect you,” he said.

Sent through a whirlpool -like legal system, the seasoned journalist was treated as a protest participant under arrest. 24 hours behind bars, a quick trial, 600 dollars in fines were his punishment – for doing his job – covering the news of the day. And then there were the two days of community service.

“They put you in a van, take you right over here to sanitation station, give you brooms, trash cans and shovels, and you are basically walking around sweeping the streets, picking up the debris, paper, cigarette butts, whatever,” the correspondent remembered.

Kirill is now on probation for six months.

“It is an outrage. In a country that professes to have an undying respect for the freedom of the press, to be throwing reporters in jail,” said Joshua Holland, editor and senior writer at Alternet.

It may be an outrage, but this case is not unique. Rather, it’s part of a dangerous trend in the US.

Read the full article here.

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