French journalist says it was ‘very weird’ that he was arrested while reporting in Australia

A French television journalist has been arrested in Australia along with his crew while they were filming at a protest against a coal mine project set to begin in Queensland.

Presenter Hugo Clément had been filming on Monday for his new show Sur le Front (English: On the Front), a four-part documentary series on protecting the environment, when he was arrested along with his three-person crew.

Speaking by telephone to Euronews, he said he was “very surprised” by the action when it was “obvious” that he was a journalist.

“We were just filming protesters who were blocking the port,” Clément said. “The police came directly to us without saying a word and just arrested us.”

He added: “It’s not a mistake because my crew is a big crew. It’s obvious that we are journalists.”

“I showed the police my press card and explained that I was a French journalist, but they didn’t care.”

The protest, which was organised by Frontline Action on Coal, saw around 40 people blocking the entrance to the Adani Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen on Monday, with some chaining themselves to an oil barrel.

Building is set to commence soon on a new coal mine in Queensland, with the product to be exported from the Adani Abbort Point port.

The entire project has been subject to several protests over the years, but has recently been boosted after plans for the mine were approved.

Queensland Police said in a statement on Monday that five people, including the four Frenchmen, were charged with trespassing on a railway at the entrance to the port.

A further two women were arrested and charged with trespassing, obstructing a railway, and contravening a police direction.

None of the seven people were identified by name in the statement.

Clément told Euronews that after the arrest he and his crew were put into the back of a police van and transferred to a local station, where they were detained for seven hours.

The group were later released on bail, he said, but with strict conditions that they were to stay at least 20 km (12 miles) from the mining site, and 100 metres from other Adani sites.

“It’s a very weird thing for a democratic country [to impose],” Clément said of the conditions of his bail, which could affect the filming of his documentary.

“I was surprised, it was very surprising for me,” he added.

“This is the first time I have had to deal with this kind of behaviour from the police.”

Clément and his three accompanying crew members are set to appear in court in September for a hearing on the charges, but are not yet sure if they will be able to leave the country in the meantime.

Euronews has contacted Queensland Police for further comment on Clément’s case.

Adani Enterprises said it knew about the protest, but made no comment on the arrests.

In a statement to Reuters, it said: “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.”

Read the full article at: euronews.com