Australian police drop charges against French media crew over coal protest

Australian police drop charges against French media crew over coal protest
By Reuters
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian police dropped charges on Thursday against four French nationals arrested this week while filming protesters blockading a coal port in the northeastern state of Queensland.

The Queensland Police Service said it had reviewed the circumstances surrounding the arrests of five people at a port facility near the town of Bowen on Monday.

"As a result, the QPS will withdraw all charges against ... four male French nationals," police said in a statement.

Police will also withdraw charges against one Australian man but would maintain charges against two women.

French television reporter Hugo Clément told Reuters he and his television crew from French public broadcaster France 2 were filming protesters blocking access to Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprise's Abbot Point coal terminal for an environmental documentary about oceans, including the Great Barrier Reef.

Police had set bail terms banning the crew from going within 20 km (12 miles) of Adani's Carmichael mine site or less than 100 metres from any other Adani site.

Clement told Reuters on Thursday that he was pleased police had dropped the charges and thanked Australians for their support.

"The arrest was unfair, the charges were unfair. The bail conditions were unfair," he said.

Adani's Carmichael mine and rail project have been the target of protests for nearly a decade over worries about coal's impact on climate change and damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Opponents lost their battle in June when the company finally received approval to begin construction.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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