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Free Press: Journalists Must Be Free to Cover Occupy Protests

Free Press said Tuesday it would be watching out for any journalist arrests, detentions or harassment Tuesday as the Occupy movement planned May 1 protests.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) documented a number of such detentions during the protests on Wall Street and elsewhere last fall and one blog cited by Free Press puts the number of arrests at 76 since September.

"The First Amendment specifically protects freedom of the press, and we are greatly troubled by the ongoing suppression and arrests of journalists attempting to cover the Occupy movement around the country," said Josh Stearns, journalism and public media campaign director, Free Press. "Our press freedom ranking has plummeted to 47th in the world due in large part to interference with members of the media at these rallies and protests. Today we have a chance to begin reversing that trend. Journalists must be free to cover these events without fear of arrest or for their own safety."

The U.S. was 47th in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders index, down 27 spots, which that group attributed to "the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests."

A spokesperson for CPJ said it, too, would be monitoring the situation and weigh in as needed.