Posted July 26, 2019 14:17:00

A prominent French journalist says his arrest in north Queensland this week will feature heavily in a documentary he is filming.

Reporter Hugo Clement, his crew and several protesters were arrested on the railway line at the entrance to Adani’s Abbot Point coal-loading facility near Bowen on Monday.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has since dropped trespass charges against Clement and his three crew members.

“They didn’t give us an explanation when they arrested us and they are not giving us an explanation now when they are saying ‘OK, it is over’,” Clement said.

“Obviously we will talk about our arrests in the documentary and we will talk about Adani in the documentary — I think more than we were planning to do at the beginning.

“I think these arrests say that there is a problem, there is something Adani wants to hide, and there is something that maybe the Government too wants to hide.

“If everything is OK and there isn’t a problem, then why do you want to arrest journalists?”

Strong international reaction

Mr Clement’s 90-minute documentary for national broadcaster France2 is expected to air later this year.

He said it was originally intended to be French-language only, however there were now moves to translate it into English after a strong international reaction to his arrest.

“A lot of people didn’t understand why, and a lot of people were surprised to see this kind of thing in a country like Australia because I think everyone thinks that Australia is a democratic country, so we can do our job without any problem,” he said.

“These charges were unfair, as was the arrest, as were the bail conditions — I think it was an attack on the freedom of the press.

“Since my arrest, I heard a lot of concern about press freedom here, a lot of journalists Australia journalists told me there are a lot of problems.”

‘Australia should be a leader’

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) CEO Paul Murphy said the union’s international affiliates had expressed their concern.

“A colleague from the Philippines said to me ‘if the Australia government and the Australian police are doing this, what message does it send to our president, President Duterte?'” Mr Murphy said.

“It just emboldens him on his attacks on the media in the Philippines, which as we know, can have deadly consequences.

“Australia should be a leader in upholding the traditions of an open and liberal democracy and setting an example to the rest of the world.

“We absolutely have to take careful note of this moment in our democracy.

“We need the Government to act to protect whistleblowers and to protect journalists doing their job — that needs to be enshrined in legislation.”

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, activism-and-lobbying, journalism, information-and-communication, police, government-and-politics, bowen-4805, qld, australia, townsville-4810, brisbane-4000, philippines, france