A Radio-Canada reporter was arrested in Gatineau, Quebec, after he asked a woman he was investigating for an interview.
Antoine Trépanier was arrested—but not charged—on Tuesday after he requested an interview with Yvonne Dubé, executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Outaouais, according to Radio-Canada.
Trépanier’s investigation found that Dubé had illegally practiced law. He reached out to Dubé on Monday, Radio-Canada says, and the two chatted for 20 minutes before he asked her if she wanted to do an on-camera interview. Dubé agreed but bailed on the interview. Trépanier emailed her on Tuesday giving her another chance to respond to his story. By Tuesday night, Police Service of the City of Gatineau (SPVG) called to advise him to report to the police station because he was under arrest for criminal harassment.
According to an SPVG press release about the “arrest of a journalist,” a woman came into see cops on Tuesday, reporting that she “was being threatened by a man.”
“The alleged victim wrote a formal statement indicating fear for her safety as a result of threats received and repeated communications from a man.”
The cops said they called the individual to inform him he was arrested after “judging the credible statement and following the analysis of the evidence.”
Trépanier went to see police and was released on a promise to appear. He must also adhere to conditions including refraining from contacting Dubé.
VICE reached out to Dubé for comment and was told she will be holding a press conference Monday. The SPVG are expected to host a press conference later today on criminal harassment complaints. In their statement, they said “under no circumstances… has the SPVG intended to interfere with a journalist in the exercise of his duties and to restrict his freedom of press.”
Radio-Canada said the arrest is unfounded and that Trépanier “was 100% respectful of CBC standards and journalistic practices.”
In a statement, the Canadian Journalists For Freedom of Expression called on Gatineau’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions to withhold charges against Trépanier.
"Charging a journalist for doing their job, which involves asking difficult questions in a proactive fashion, would set a chilling precedent, eroding conditions for free expression in journalism," the statement said.Last year, the Quebec government launched the Chamberland Commission—an inquiry into the revelation that police forces in the province were spying on a number of journalists.
The Commission recommended Quebec adopt legislation to protect journalist sources.
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