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British photographer arrested and charged in US for covering protests

A BRITISH photographer has been arrested and charged by cops in New York while covering police brutality protests in the US.

Adam Gray, chief photographer for British news agency SWNS, was held in prison, in close proximity to 70 others with his PPE mask confiscated, for more than 10-and-a-half hours.

The 33-year-old was on assignment for The Sun US in New York when he was apprehended by several officers, forced to the ground, and his equipment damaged.

The incident, which is reported to have taken place near Union Square amid widespread protests across the country, came despite the photographer holding full press credentials.

Mr Gray said he has now been “charged with unlawful assembly for taking pictures of protesters and police,” and will appear in court later this year.

He added: “No social distancing was possible and many prisoners had their masks taken off them for a photo and not returned or provided with new ones. Extreme risk to personal health.”

The arrest of a British journalist, and the behaviour of police officers, has been criticised by campaigners for press freedom.

Representatives from the International Federation of Journalists  have said that the targeting of journalists “must be punished” and those who “who attack and threaten journalists must be held to account.”

General secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Adam Gray’s arrest is yet another example of the outrageous response of the US authorities to being subjected to legitimate scrutiny.

“Adam posed no danger, was clearly identified as a journalist and was working but faced arrest and detention, which in light of the current pandemic, could be potentially life-threatening.

“Led by a President who vilifies and threatens the media on a regular basis, the US authorities’ war on journalists and media freedom must stop.”

This incident follows criticism from trade unions representing journalists on both sides of the Atlantic, as they are targeted in their attempts to cover the developing protests against police brutality in light of the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

These include the on-air arrest of CNN journalist Omar Jimenez, with reports suggesting more than 90 journalists have now been arrested covering demonstrations in the past week.

The Foreign Office has branded the incidents very concerning, adding: “Journalists all around the world must be free to do their job and to hold authorities to account without fear of arrest or violence.”

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