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CAJ CONDEMNS CHARGES AGAINST AYLMER EXPRESS JOURNALISTS

The Canadian Association of Journalists condemns the criminal charges brought against Aylmer Express publisher John Hueston and reporter/editor Brett Hueston.

“The OPP’s decision to charge a father and son team who run a community newspaper is a stunning and unacceptable assault on press freedom and the public’s right to know,” said CAJ President Karyn Pugliese. “We urge the OPP to immediately withdraw all charges against the journalists.”

On June 23, a car drove off a cliff at the South end of Springfield Road above Lake Erie. The following day, June 24, a Special Investigations Unit was brought in to determine if an OPP police vehicle had been in pursuit at the time of the crash. The death was ultimately determined to be a suicide, clearing the OPP.

On the 24th, while the investigation was ongoing, John and Brett Hueston drove past a road closed sign and arrived on the scene, which is not unusual for local reporters. A plain-clothed officer on the scene told journalists they could not take photos and needed to move their car.  John Hueston asked for the officer’s identification, was referred to her superior, who after a short discussion ordered arrest of the two journalists. They were arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail at the Elgin OPP detachment where they were held for three hours until the crash scene had been cleared. Their cameras were also confiscated.

John Hueston, 67, and Brett, 33, now face charges of criminal obstruction of a peace officer.

A trial is set for Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice. It is expected to be a one-day trial.

The two maintain they did not interfere with the investigation, never went closer than 50 metres to the site of the investigation and only spoke to officers to ask where they could park and take photos.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing nearly 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For more information:

Karyn Pugliese, CAJ president

karyn@caj.ca

204-995-1071

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