AA journalist's life threatened by police in Ferguson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

AA correspondent in the U.S., Bilgin Sasmaz, was wounded by police while covering the protests in Ferguson and remained in detention for 5 hours

AA correspondent in the U.S., Bilgin Sasmaz, was wounded by police while covering the protests in Ferguson and remained in detention for 5 hours

ANKARA - Police threatened the life of an AA's correspondent in the U.S  while he was covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the killing of an unarmed black teenager.

Bilgin Sasmaz informed, on Tuesday, the AA headquarters in Ankara over the phone that he had been beaten and detained by the police for five hours as he was reporting on the recurring protests in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, over the killing of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.

Sasmaz said that he was trying to film a police officer who was about to shoot a plastic bullet at one of the demonstrators on West Florissant Avenue, where the protests are taking place.

"I was threatened  by the police officer. 'I will kill you if you try to shoot a video again' the police officer said,"  Sasmaz recalled. 

Sasmaz said he went on to film in the middle of the protesters despite these threats when one of the demonstrators threw a bottle at a police officer. 

"A police officer grabbed me removed from the scene by force although I shouted Press, Press," Sasmaz said. 

He said he was forced to kneel down. He did not resist and there was blood on his knees.

"The police placed me in plastic handcuffs, got me on the ground and took my camera. They made me get in a police van," he said.

"I waited in the van for one and half hours with some protesters. I was taken to a detention center and then to a police station, and searched from top to toe."

Sasmaz also said his camera was damaged. 

Clashes in Ferguson between police and protesters spread over the weekend following the release of the name of the white officer -- Darren Wilson -- who shot Brown, igniting racial tensions in the predominantly black city.

Observers from Amnesty International said Wednesday that U.S. law-enforcement officers had used excessive force against demonstrators protesting about the shooting dead of the  black teenager.

Amnesty also urged the U.S. "to end police violence" in Ferguson.

This is the first time the organization has sent observers within the United States.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation reported that at least 13 journalists were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri since the protests began on August 13. 

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