US & Canada

Dan Heyman: US reporter arrested for shouting questions on healthcare

Heyman says he was not hurt, but added that officers did put their hands on him Image copyright Jake Zuckerman/ Charleston Gazette-Mail
Image caption Heyman says he was not hurt during his arrest

A reporter was arrested on Tuesday night at the West Virginia Capitol for allegedly causing a disturbance by shouting questions to two Trump aides.

Dan Heyman had asked Health Secretary Tom Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway about coverage under the Republican healthcare plan.

The veteran health reporter wanted to know if domestic violence would be covered as a pre-existing condition.

He later said he "was trying to do my job". He nows faces a prison sentence.

Mr Heyman, who works for the Public News Service, spoke to reporters after being released by police.

He said that he had been following the Trump team's entourage through the capitol building while wearing his press badge and a shirt identifying his media outlet.

"He didn't say anything," Mr Heyman told reporters about Mr Price's refusal to answer his question.

"So I persisted," he added.

Mr Price and Ms Conway were in West Virginia for a conference on the opioid epidemic, and its effect on West Virginia, which has seen more overdoses than any other US state.

"This is my job, this is what I'm supposed to do," he said. "I think it's a question that deserves to be answered. I think it's my job to ask questions and I think it's my job to try to get answers."

According to a criminal complaint, Mr Heyman was "aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol.

"The defendant was causing a disturbance at Ms Conway and Secretary Price."

He was charged with wilful disruption of government processes.

Mr Heyman retorted that he was in a public space, and had not been warned to step away.

The American Civil Liberties Union has defended Mr Heyman's actions, saying his "arrest is a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press. The charges against him are outrageous, and they must be dropped immediately".

"They [the Trump administration] have shown us every day since Donald Trump took office that they don't care about the First Amendment, or the free press. Today was just another example of that. It's horrifying," said ACLU-West Virginia legal director Jamie Lynn Crofts.

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