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News photographer detained under treason law

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  1. Newsgathering

    NMU         VERMONT         Newsgathering         Dec 4, 2001    

News photographer detained under treason law

  • Police said Brattleboro Reformer photographer violated state law forbidding picture-taking of government property during the threat of war.

Police detained a Vermont news photographer Nov. 28 after he took photos of Vermont Yankee, a nuclear power plant in southern Vermont.

Jason Henske was taking pictures for an article for the Dec. 1 edition of the Brattleboro Reformer, which has been publishing a continuing series on safety at the power plant. Henske was not on the property of the power plant when he took the photos but was asked to accompany Vernon Police Chief Randy Wheelock to the police department.

Henske was detained for two hours before being released with his camera and his photos.

According to the Brattleboro Reformer, State’s Attorney Dan Davis said that under VSA Title 13, Section 3481, taking pictures of a nuclear power plant when the nation is at war can, depending on the circumstances, be a felony carrying a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

The section, under “Treason and other offenses against the government,” states that a “person who, without permission of lawful authority, while the United States is at war or threatened with war, makes or attempts to make any map, drawing, plan, model, description, or picture of any military camp, fort, armory, arsenal, bridge, road, canal, dockyard, telephone or telegraph line or equipment, railway or property of any corporation subject to the supervision of the public service board, or of any municipality or part thereof, shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years.”

“We were very surprised when we heard of this Vermont statute,” said Kate Casa, managing editor of the Reformer. According to Casa, Henske had taken photos of the nuclear power plant at least twice since Sept. 11.

Meanwhile, no charges have been brought against Henske.

Various photographs of Vermont Yankee, including pictures of the plant’s control room, can be viewed at the company’s Web site at A Web site developed for nuclear plant workers,, offers numerous views of the plant, including aerial shots.


© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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