Reporters arrested during protests at Air Force base
MARYLAND–Soldiers at Andrews Air Force Base detained two journalists and confiscated their audio tape in late May, after they recorded a protest that took place during an open house on the base.
Amy Goodman, host of the Pacifica Radio program “Democracy Now!,” said she and producer Jeremy Scahill were detained, handcuffed, held for six hours without access to a telephone and threatened with further detention. She said Air Force authorities, who also arrested five protesters, confiscated all tape of the protest and barred the journalists from returning to the base for two years.
“This is totally outrageous,” Goodman said. “We had our press tags on us, and we called ahead to make sure it was okay for us to be there. Nobody ever contended that we were anything besides what we said we were, and yet they detained us, handcuffed us, confiscated our tape and held us incommunicado for six hours.”
Goodman said that Pacifica’s attorneys persuaded the government to release the confiscated tapes, and they were broadcast on a recent show. The two-year ban remains in place, though attorneys are working to get it overturned.
The incident took place on the final day of an open house at the base, an event attended by more than 750,000 people over a three-day period. The journalists were interviewing the pilot of a B-52 bomber when a small group of activists from Plowshares, a peace advocacy organization, began to beat the plane with hammers and throw blood on it. Goodman said that when soldiers arrived to detain the protesters, the two journalists were also seized.
A base spokesman told The Washington Post that the journalists were detained and barred because it was unclear whether or not they were participants in the protest and because they allegedly failed to check in with military authorities.