Video: Justin Brake, The Independent
Justin Brake, reporter and editor for The Independent, faces criminal charges for his reporting on the Indigenous protest and occupation of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project site in October 2016.
This is a serious threat to press freedom.
Indigenous activists staged a peaceful occupation of the hydroelectric construction site to draw attention to the negative environmental consequences of the project. Brake followed them as they entered the site to report on their protest, monitor their interactions with law enforcement, and keep the public informed about an issue of vital public interest. He was the only journalist reporting on site.
For this work Brake now faces two criminal charges—(1) "mischief relating to a testamentary instrument or property greater than 5,000” and (2) “unlawfully disobeying an order of the Court”—that carry a maximum ten years in prison.
This is an outrageous assault on the public’s right to know, and could cause a chill in reporting on controversies over resource development projects and Indigenous-led protests. It is essential that journalists be able to safely and freely cover events in the public interest, such as the occupation of Muskrat Falls, without fear of legal reprisals.
JOURNALISM IS NOT A CRIME.
We, the undersigned, call upon:
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, AND
Frances Knickle, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, Newfoundland and Labrador