An American journalist was arrested Tuesday in West Virginia, U.S. for asking a government official question, the Washington Post has reported.
Dan Heyman, said to be a veteran reporter with the Public News Service, was reportedly pulled aside by a security officer, handcuffed and arrested for persistently asking the Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the Republican bill to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system.
Mr. Heyman, according to the report, was detained on the charge of willful disruption of state government processes and was released later on $5,000 bail.
The paper said that Mr. Heyman had followed Mr. Price along a hallway in the state capitol and was holding up his phone to the secretary.
It quoted the journalist as saying that he was persistent with his question even when the secretary refused to answer him.
The authorities, in their complaint against Mr. Heyman, said the journalist was obstructing Secret Service agents who were providing security for Mr. Price, and that he was also “causing a disturbance by yelling questions” at Mr. Price and Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Donald Trump.
Mr. Price and Ms. Conway were in Charleston, West Virginia, for a government assignment.
Mr. Heyman responded to his arrest by saying that he was simply fulfilling his role as a journalist, adding that his arrest sets a “terrible example” for members of the press seeking answers to questions, the paper reported.
The journalist said he wore a press pass and had properly identified himself to the police before he was arrested.
A civil rights group in West Virginia has described the journalist’s arrest as “a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press.” It called on the authorities to immediately drop the charges against the journalist.
“This is a dangerous time in our country. Freedom of the press is being eroded every day,” the group was quoted to have said in its statement.