Australia detains French television crew filming anti-coal protest
A French television reporter and his crew have been arrested after filming protesters blockading a coal port in Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland.
State police said seven people, including four French men aged 29, 30, 32 and 39, had been arrested and charged with trespassing on a railway at the Abbot Point coal terminal on Monday.
Police did not identify any of those arrested.
Reporter Hugo Clément and his television crew were filming an environmental documentary for France 2, according to Frontline Action on Coal, the group leading the protest at the port.
The demonstration has been organised against India’s Adani Enterprises, which is digging a coal mine in Queensland.
Pictures from the protest group showed Clément crouched in a police van and two others, one with a video camera and the other with a camera, being guided by police towards the van.
Clement and his crew have been released on bail and are due to appear at the state’s Bowen magistrates’ court on September 3.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the police charge sheet showed Clément’s bail terms ban him from going within 20 km (12 miles) of Adani’s mine site, or less than 100 metres from any other Adani site.
Adani’s Carmichael mine and rail project has been the target of protests for nearly a decade, but opponents lost their battle in June when the company finally received approval to begin construction.
The French team was filming protesters blocking access to Adani’s Abbot Point terminal, from which it plans to export coal from the mine, said a representative of Frontline Action on Coal, who identified herself as just Amy.
Police told the journalists they were blocking the railway corridor and then arrested them, rather than merely telling them to move out of the way, she said.
The French consul-general in Brisbane declined to comment on the incident.
Adani, owner of the coal port, said it was aware of the protest but had no comment on any arrests.
“We encourage people to base their opinion on the facts, and to conduct any protest activity legally and safely, without putting themselves or our employees, contractors or other community members at risk,” it said in an emailed statement.
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