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Pentagon police seize Fox News videotape of driver's arrest

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  1. Newsgathering

    NMU         PENTAGON         Newsgathering         Mar 22, 2002    

Pentagon police seize Fox News videotape of driver’s arrest

  • Military officials give network videotape they confiscated from a cameraman after they discovered him filming a traffic stop of an Iranian man on a highway near the Pentagon building.

Defense officials returned a videotape to Fox News on March 20, a day after military police confiscated it from a cameraman shooting a traffic stop on a Virginia state highway that runs along the northern side of the Pentagon building.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke explained during a press briefing that same day that officials took the tape because the cameraman had been on government land near the Pentagon. Such photography is not permitted unless cameramen are escorted by an official.

Clarke, however, said the tape was returned after discussions between Pentagon and Fox bureau officials.

“I think the constructive thing to do, not to belabor this too much, but we’re constantly talking with you all and with the bureau chiefs saying, ‘Okay. Let’s accept the fact, unusual circumstances, unconventional things, happen. How are we going to handle it?” Clarke said at the March 20 briefing right before defense officials returned the tape.

“Prior to Sept. 11, I don’t think it really occurred to us that a plane could fly into your building.”

Fox News announced the incident the night before during Brit Hume’s “Special Report.”

“A disturbing development tonight, possibly reflecting on the restrictive information policies of the Defense Department,” Hume said. “A Fox News cameraman was accosted by Pentagon police outside the building this afternoon as he was shooting pictures of an arrest being carried out by Virginia State Police.”

State troopers had stopped a man driving a pickup truck on Route 110 which runs near the Pentagon building. Six-axle trucks are restricted on that road. Police said the man was of Iranian descent and did not speak English clearly. After clearing his identification and examining his truck, police let the man go.

Cameraman Gregg Gursky of Fox News’ Washington bureau caught the incident on tape.

As Gursky finished taping from what he thought was public property, Pentagon police stopped him, informed him he was on government property without a permit and asked for the tape.

Gursky, who has security clearance and credentials to film at the Pentagon, refused. The officers frisked Gursky, handcuffed him and took the tape. After the officers took the tape, they removed the handcuffs from Gursky and let him go.


© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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