West Virginia police arrested a reporter during a visit to Charleston by Trump administration figures. Dan Heyman claimed it was because he was "just too persistent," but security officials allege aggressive behavior.
Journalist Dan Heyman said on Wednesday that security personnel grabbed and handcuffed him as he was calling out questions to US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House advisor Kellyanne Conway while in the state legislature in Charleston, West Virginia.
Heyman, who works for the nonprofit news organization Public News Service, had apparently been trying to ask Price questions about healthcare. "I'm not sure why, but at some point I think they decided I was just too persistent in asking this question and trying to do my job, so they arrested me," he said during a press conference.
The journalist said he was asking Price if domestic abuse would be considered a pre-existing condition under the new healthcare bill passed last week by the House of Representatives.
ACLU speaks out
But a criminal complaint filed against the reporter said he had been "yelling questions" and "aggressively breaching secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times."
"This is not about someone merely trying to ask questions," said Lawrence Messina, spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. "He was physically trying to push past the agents."
Price himself defended police for arresting the journalist, saying the officers "did what they felt was appropriate."
He also pointed out that Heyman's question-asking had taken place in a corridor. "That gentleman was not in a press conference," Price said, according to STAT news.
Heyman said he was eventually released on $5,000 (4,597 euros) bail.
Some civil liberties groups spoke out against his arrest, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of West Virginia.
blc/kl (AP, Washington Post)