[SEE BELOW for latest updates] K'jipuktuk (Halifax) - In a blantant effort to silence his ongoing coverage of the struggle against seismic testing related to shale gas exploration in New Brunswick, a senior RCMP officer arrested Halifax Media Co-op reporter Miles Howe this afternoon.
"Miles was arrested while I waited with him to get permission to go see exploration site," tweeted APTN reporter Jorge Barrera, who was standing beside Miles when he was arrested. "Miles was arrested for allegedly 'uttering death threats' against senior RCMP officer who made the arrest after shaking Miles' hand." [UPDATE: unconfirmed reports say the charge is "uttering threats against a police officer" and not "uttering death threats."]
Miles has been covering the anti-fracking story from the front lines for weeks, posting his reports on the Halifax Media Co-op.
According to Barrera, the cops took Miles' phone and camera as evidence against him. "Reporting on #Elsipogtog anti-fracking protest just got more complicated," tweeted Barrera. "The RCMP has also been trying to recruit informants, offering cash."
We do not yet know where Miles will be taken by police. His arrest is a clear effort to silence grassroots voices.
Miles is the 30th person to be arrested at the site. Please click here to read his most recent story, which calls for support at the sacred fire and blockade today, as seismic testing is said to be resuming.
UPDATE (14:45 Atlantic time): From Jorge Barrera: "War Chief John Levi charged with obstruction today in connection with @MilesHowe arrest." Levi's court date is Friday, no further information on what's happening with Miles, we do know that as of 13:45 eastern he was being held on the site in a police vehicle.
UPDATE (16:26 Atlantic time): APTN reports that Miles Howe is being held at the Codiac police detachment near Moncton.
Halifax Media Co-op editor Ben Sichel contacted the RCMP in Fredericton and was told by Bert Hudon of the professional standards department that Miles Howe would not be released. "If he did that, why should we release him?" Hudon asked Sichel. "There must have been a reason for his arrest."
UPDATE (18:06 Atlantic time): An unconfirmed report has stated that Miles Howe has been released from custody. It is not known whether bail was posted. The same source states that the charge against Howe is "uttering threats against a police officer" and not "uttering death threats."
UPDATE (19:09 Atlantic time): CBC is reporting that Howe's arrest was related to an incident that took place on June 21st. The Media Co-op is awaiting a statement from the RCMP as to why his arrest took place today. The CBC article states that Howe is still in custody, but 3 other sources including Jorge Barrera of the APTN have stated that he has been released.
UPDATE (20:40 Atlantic time): We have confirmed that Miles Howe has been released from police custody with no conditions, and his possessions have been returned to him, including a camera and cell phone. He has been charged with threats as well as obstruction of justice.
UPDATE (23:07 Atlantic time): The Halifax Media Co-op will publish a detailed report on this story on the morning of July 5th.