Filmmaker Faces 45 Years In Prison For Reporting On Dakota Access Protests
In an ominous sign for press freedom, documentary filmmaker and journalist Deia Schlosberg was arrested and charged with felonies carrying a whopping maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison—simply for reporting on the ongoing Indigenous protests against fossil fuel infrastructure.
Schlosberg was arrested in Walhalla, North Dakota on Tuesday for filming activists shutting down a tar sands pipeline, part of a nationwide solidarity action organized on behalf of those battling the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The filmmaker was held without access to a lawyer for 48 hours, her colleague Josh Fox wrote in the Nation, and her footage was confiscated by the police.
Schlosberg was then charged Friday with three felonies, the Huffington Post reported: “conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.”
“They have in my view violated the First Amendment,” Fox told the Huffington Post, referring to the state’s Pembina County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s fucking scary, it knocks the wind of your sails, it throws you for a loop. They threw the book at Deia for being a journalist.”
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowdenobserved that Schlosberg faces more years in prison than he does for leaking secret documents about the NSA’s mass surveillance program in 2013:
“Deia isn’t alone,” observed Fox in an op-ed in the Nation. “The arrest of journalists, filmmakers, and others witnessing and reporting on citizen protests against fossil-fuel infrastructure amid climate change is part of a worrisome and growing pattern.”