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OSCE condemns arrest of RT journalists in US

The Media Freedom Representative for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatovic, severely criticized on Wednesday the arrest of two RT crew members in the US state of Georgia.

Kaelyn Forde and Jon Conway from RT’s Washington bureau were covering demonstrations outside Fort Benning military training camp in Colombus over the weekend when they were aggressively detained by police. The crew had complied with police demands that they do not get too close to the gates of the base.

The RT employees were charged with insubordination to the authorities, taking part in unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. They were forced to spend 32 hours in Muscogee County Jail with convicted criminals.

On Monday they each paid a $290 fine on charges of participating in unlawful assembly and were set free.

The investigation into “insubordination to the authorities” will continue.

In a note to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dunja Mijatovic expressed her disappointment over the conduct of the police.

"The fact that local police officers would detain, handcuff and arrest members of the press as they engaged in their duty to report on a public event is disturbing," Mijatovic said, according to the OSCE’s website.

"While it is clear that police play a crucial role in maintaining order during public demonstrations, the indiscriminate rounding up of media and bringing charges against them goes well beyond what is necessary to keep the peace," the OSCE officer continued.

Mijatovic asked for a detailed and fair investigation into the incident.

Every year human rights activists organize non-violent protests at the gates of Fort Benning, which houses the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation (formerly the School of the Americas), demanding it be closed.

The institute is known for training police and military personnel from Latin American countries, many of whom are believed to have been involved in crimes against citizens.