By Kanishka Singh

Nov. 22 (Reuters) – Two journalists whose arrests last week at an indigenous protest against an oil pipeline in Canada drew broad condemnation were released on bail Monday.

Amber Bracken, an award-winning photojournalist who previously worked with the Guardian newspaper, and Michael Toledano, a documentary maker, were arrested Friday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which was enforcing a court-ordered injunction in British Columbia.

More than a dozen protesters were also arrested during the protest against TC Energy Corp’s Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“The two journalists were released after signing the conditions to respect the injunction, to maintain public order and to appear in court at a later date. Hearings are continuing for the other offenders,” police said in a press release Monday https://bit.ly / 3lmdbvV.

Coastal, owned by private equity firm KKR & Co Inc, Alberta Investment Management Corp and TC Energy, had declared the protests illegal, citing an injunction granted by the British Columbia Supreme Court in 2019.

Police said on Monday that their relations with the media were “based on mutual respect and professionalism”. The two journalists were not arrested for carrying out their work but for violating the injunction, they said.

Toledano said he was arrested at gunpoint. “My arrest and incarceration was punitive and a blatant attempt to quell images of police violence against Indigenous peoples in Canada,” he said Monday evening on Twitter https://bit.ly/3kYBzTO.

The Canadian Association of Journalists condemned the arrests and called for the immediate release of the two journalists. The two are due to return to court on February 14 for a hearing related to allegations of civil contempt of court.

The hereditary chiefs of the Gidimt’en and the four other clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en people have been trying for more than a year to stop construction of the pipeline.

The 20 elected Indigenous band councils along the 415 mile (670 km) Coastal GasLink route support the project. But the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs insist they have the final say.

($ 1 = 1.2701 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)


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