Ferguson police ‘detain, beat, threaten’ Anadolu Agency correspondent
Bilgin Şaşmaz was filming a clash between police and protesters in Ferguson when he was mishandled by security forces, Anadolu Agency said. AA PhotoHours after nearly 50 protesters were arrested on the 11th night of racially charged demonstrations over the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu Agency (AA) has reported that its correspondent was “beaten and detained as he tried to cover the protests.”
Bilgin Şaşmaz was filming a clash between police and protesters in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis in the United States, when the incident took place on Aug. 19. “Şaşmaz was confronted by the harsh intervention of the police,” AA reported, adding that he was forced to lie down after he insisted on filming before he was handcuffed and put in a cell. He was released after five hours.
Şaşmaz told AA that his life was threatened while he was photographing a policeman who was about to fire a rubber bullet gun. “The policeman told me: ‘If you direct your flash toward me once again, I will kill you,’” he recounted.
He also said he went on to film in the middle of the protesters despite these threats, after one of the demonstrators threw a bottle at a police officer. He was then removed from the scene by a police officer although he was shouting, “Press, Press!”
Şaşmaz said he was then forced to kneel down while his camera was damaged, which made his knees bleed.
Kemal Öztürk, the CEO of Anadolu Agency, said in a tweet on Aug. 20 that Şaşmaz was “in shock.” “We’re trying to get him out of Ferguson,” Öztürk added.
Observers from Amnesty International said Aug. 20 that U.S. law-enforcement officers had used excessive force against demonstrators protesting against the shooting dead of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Amnesty also urged the U.S. “to end police violence” in Ferguson.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation has reported that at least 13 journalists have been arrested in Ferguson since the protests began on Aug. 13.