UPDATE 1-Celebrities rally behind filmmaker arrested in pipeline protests

Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:58pm EDT
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(Recasts with letter of support from celebrities)

By Dan Whitcomb

Oct 13 (Reuters) - Singer Neil Young, actor Mark Ruffalo and other celebrities on Thursday joined in calling for charges to be dropped against a documentary maker arrested while filming protesters who shut down oil pipelines from Canada to the United States, saying that she was acting as a journalist.

Deia Schlosberg, producer of the 2016 documentary "How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change", was taken into custody at a TransCanada Corp's Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County, North Dakota.

She was charged along with activists Samuel Jessup and Michael Foster on Thursday with three counts of conspiracy, charges which carry a maximum penalty of 45 years in prison.

Foster was also charged with trespassing and criminal mischief.

Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox, who produced "How to Let Go of the World" with Schlosberg, said in an open letter to President Barack Obama and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple that the charges against her were "unfair, unjust and illegal."

The letter was signed by more than 30 artists, filmmakers, writers and journalists, including Young, Ruffalo, actors Daryl Hannah and Frances Fisher and singer Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

"Journalism, especially documentary filmmaking, is not a crime, it's a responsibility. The freedom of the press is a fundamental right in our free society. The charges filed against her are an injustice that must be dropped immediately," said the letter, posted on the website EcoWatch.   Continued...