Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Journalist arrested during US health secretary's visit


The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia promptly released a statement Tuesday condemning the arrest.

Journalist Dan Heyman was arrested Tuesday at the West Virginia state capitol after approaching Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Kellyanne Conway, special counsel to the President.

Heyman said at a news conference that he was just doing his job.

"Price is an architect and booster of AHCA, so it seems fair for a reporter to get answers on questions Americans are most concerned about", Tegethoff said.

Heyman had to pay $5,000 bond and was charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, a misdemeanor. He was released on a $5,000 bond after being held for almost eight hours.

Lark Corbeil, chief executive and founder of Public News Service, the service Heyman was working for at the time of his arrest, told the Washington Post that Heyman's arrest took the organization "very much by surprise".

"That gentleman was not in a press conference", Price said.

"West Virginia authorities should drop all charges against Dan Heyman immediately and respect journalists' right to question government officials", said Alexandra Ellerbeck, senior USA and Americas researcher at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

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"The individual repeatedly tried to push his way past secret service agents who were providing for the safety and security for an event at the state capitol". A hearing date has not yet been set, but he could face up to six months in jail and a $100 fee. "(It's the) first time I've ever heard of anybody being arrested for asking a question. Nothing in the statute covers what Heyman actually did, she said, and it's also overly broad.

Heyman works for Public News Service, a nonprofit based in Colorado that publishes articles on matters of public interest and provides content to other publications.

Capitol police indicated that Heyman was being too loud and aggressive, which ultimately led to his arrest. "And I said, 'If I'm under arrest, how come I haven't had my Miranda rights read to me?'"

Heyman said he was part of a reporter scrum moving through the building with Price and Conway.

The statement added this is a "dangerous time in the country". "We were walking down a hall, and Capitol Police acted as they thought necessary".

Price was at the Capitol to meet with state lawmakers and others about the opioid epidemic. Charge up your flashlights gang, because this won't be the last dark day. Subsequent reports that Sessions is considering criminal charges against Wikileaks revived deep concerns about press freedom under Trump.

"In its current form, employees are likely to interpret it as a prohibition, and will not necessarily understand their rights", wrote Grassley and Chaffetz, who are each chairmen of powerful congressional committees overseeing the judiciary and government affairs, respectively.

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