Australia arrests French journalists filming anti-coal protest

Peter Parks, AFP | Photo taken on May 12, 2019 shows an anti-Adani coal mine protester preparing to door knock residents.

A French television reporter and his crew were arrested on Monday while 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.

Police did not identify any of the seven.

Reporter Hugo Clément and his television crew were filming an environmental documentary for France 2, said Frontline Action on Coal, the group leading the protest at the port against India's Adani Enterprises, which is digging a coal mine in Queensland.

Pictures from the protest group showed Clement 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 Sept. 3.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp said the police charge sheet showed Clement'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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