A U.S. photojournalist working for the Santiago Times was arrested and beaten for taking photos of a protest in southern Chile, according to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Jason Suder published an article in the Huffington Post March 6 that described the protest and arrest in Aysén, Chile, a fishing region with a high fuel prices, crumbling infrastructure, poor healthcare and a struggling poor population. These issues have led to strikes, protests and blockades of the city by residents, according to Suder’s article.
In his article, Suder wrote that he witnessed the police exercising excessive force on several protestors, so he began snapping photos. When he did this, a member of the police force tried to stop him by pushing and punching Suder and his camera. Suder wrote that he continued to take pictures until the officer threw him into the back of a police car with two others.
Suder wrote: “In a country trying to improve its press freedoms, I had obeyed the law. I had done nothing wrong. I had done nothing illegal. In Chile, you are allowed to take pictures freely in a public space. My shouts of ‘International press! International press!’ did nothing to protect me.”
As mentioned in Suder’s article, Chile slipped 47 places in the Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 Global Press Freedom Rankings, primarily for arrests involving journalists covering student protests in Chile.
Suder has been released and, according to the Knight Center, Suder’s article, as well as criticisms of the arrest by other journalists and photographers prompted the Chilean police to present an official document recognizing that photographing public servants is not illegal.