Outrage over Arrest of Two Photojournalists in Spain

The news of the arrest of photojournalist Raúl Capín, at his home in Madrid, was widely shared under the tag #RaúlLibertad on Twitter. Later, the reason for the arrest was made know in exact terms: “disturbances and contempt of authority.” Photojournalist Adolfo Luján was also arrested. They have since been released.

The most prudent Internet-users waited to find out the reasons for the arrest while others condemned it on principle: a government attempt to limit the freedom of the press in Spain.

"Because taking photos of police brutality is not a felony. Freedom for the detained photojournalists"

“Because taking photos of police brutality is not a felony. Freedom for the detained photojournalists”

Raúl Capín, who works for the Diario DID (Independent Digital Newspaper) [es] and Mundo Obrero (Workers World) [es], was criminalized by the large conservative newspapers of the country which called him an “undercover photographer in the demonstrations” and even a “radical demonstrator.”

Meanwhile, online messages of indignation and complaints of the repression of journalists who report on social protests continue to circulate. Various groups, platforms, alternative media sources and journalists have shown their solidarity with those who were arrested, such as the platform Fotogracción [es] which put out a statement [es] on which more than 120 groups and 250 people have already signed in support. The online newspaper La República [es] explained its perspective:

Es así como se ha producido la detención del compañero, a quien han ido a buscar a su casa, como si se tratara de un peligroso delincuente. En su casa tenía armas tan peligrosas como una cámara Nikon… Nosotros y nosotras, como Raúl, también estamos armados. Tenemos cámaras de fotos, vídeo, ordenadores y, lo más peligroso para ellos, las ganas de informar.

This is how the arrest of our fellow journalist was carried out, who they went to detain at his house, as if he were a dangerous criminal. In his house he had such dangerous weapons as a Nikon camera… We, like Raúl, are also armed. We have cameras to take photos and videos, computers, and the most dangerous thing of all for them, the desire to inform.

Social networks and citizen journalists on the Internet allow for more and more stories that contrast official information, thanks to the spread of videos and images that show another reality. In this video we can see how the police take the bracelet worn by members of the press from the photojournalist who was arrested yesterday, while covering the protests organized by the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) against evictions:

Another video [es] shows the same scene from a different perspective and how the police treat journalists covering the demonstration.

This is not the first time the Spanish government has violated freedom of the press, and not only in the area of social actions. The public state-run network of Spanish radio and television (RTVE) has dismissed journalists [es] for what allegedly political reasons. At the beginning of the legislative term, a law modified the designation of the president of RTVE [es] who, from now on, will be appointed by the government without having to come to any agreement with the opposition. Those working for the corporation have called this modification “very worrisome” because it means the loss of the network's autonomy. Recently, the newspaper El Mundo reported on the votes of the Spanish European Parliament Members [es] from the European Popular Party against a report on freedom of press.

*Thumbnail by photographer Juan Luis Sánchez and taken from his Twitter account @juanlusanchez.

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