STATEMENT: Criminal charges against Justin Brake an attack on press freedom | TheIndependent.ca: The Independent strongly condemns the criminal charges brought against journalist and Independent reporter/editor Justin Brake on March 7 for his reporting from the Indigenous-led occupation of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project site in Labrador last fall.
On March 8 Brake was summoned to appear in provincial court in Happy Valley-Goose Bay April 11 on charges of mischief exceeding $5,000 and disobeying a previous Supreme Court of N.L. injunction prohibiting people from entering or blocking access to the site. According to a March 7 RCMP press release the charges stem from an RCMP investigation into activities at the Muskrat Falls site last October and are among a total of 60 charges laid against 28 individuals.
“These criminal charges, which carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, are not only an attack on The Independent for doing important journalism,” says Brake, “they also amount to an attack by the RCMP on press freedom in Canada.
“In light of the revelations last year of police surveillance of journalists in Quebec and Ontario, these new charges deliver yet another blow to the integrity of Canada’s police agencies, including the RCMP, when it comes to protecting, not hurting, press freedom,” Brake added. “They should be withdrawn immediately. If they are not, we will fight them vigorously in court.”
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