On April 15, Local 514 journalist Savanna Craig was covering a protest when she was arrested and detained by local police. (Photo: Provided by Savanna Craig)
On April 15, Local 514 journalist Savanna Craig was covering a protest when she was arrested and detained by local police. (Photo: Provided by Savanna Craig)

Canadian journalist detained during Israel-Gaza war protest

Washington, D.C., April 18, 2024—Canadian authorities must allow journalists to do their jobs and cover protests without fear of being detained or arrested and make public whether journalist Savanna Craig is facing charges following her arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday. 

Craig, a reporter with the Montreal news program Local 514, was covering a pro-Palestinian sit-in on private property at a Scotiabank branch on Monday when she was detained by local police and told that she was being arrested and charged with “mischief,” the journalist told CPJ. 

Police provided Craig with a document affirming her right to remain silent and stating that the evidence gathered against her will be submitted to a criminal and penal prosecutor for analysis. The document, which was reviewed by CPJ, also stated that the prosecutor will decide whether Craig will face charges and be prosecuted.

On Tuesday, Craig confirmed with local law enforcement that she was facing charges though, as of publication, had not received a charging document. 

When contacted by CPJ for comment, the Montreal police communications department said that they are in the process of investigating the circumstances around Craig’s arrest and were unable to provide more details.

“We are concerned that reporter Savanna Craig was detained and faces possible charges simply for doing her job and covering a matter of public importance,” said CPJ U.S., Canada and Caribbean Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. “Law enforcement in Montreal needs to make clear whether or not Craig is facing charges of mischief, and if she is, the charges should be dropped immediately. Journalism is not ‘mischief.’” 

Craig told CPJ that police arrived at Scotiabank at approximately 10:30 a.m. She introduced herself as a journalist, tried to show them her press pass, and complied with their orders to move to one side of the room.

Craig continued documenting until noon when the activists stood up, linked arms, and tried to leave. Police then came forward and told the group that they were all being charged with mischief, kettling Craig in the group of protesters.

Craig was then processed with the protesters inside the bank. During processing, Craig presented her press pass, equipment, and told them the name of her news outlet, again informing officers that she was there as a journalist. Craig told CPJ that the officers made critical comments that she didn’t look like a journalist and questioning why she wasn’t wearing a press vest.

Officers then confirmed that Craig was under arrest, read her rights, took photographs of her equipment, took her mugshot, and provided a piece of paper with her case number. 

The officers informed her that a prosecutor will decide whether to move forward with the charges. CPJ has reached out to the prosecutor’s office and has not received a response.

Local 514 is a local news program focusing on municipal issues in Montreal and is run by CUTV, a television station that is affiliated with Concordia University that also receives grant funding. Craig has worked as a host and producer for the program since November 2020, and previously worked as a freelancer and with Ricochet Québec.

CUTV has also released a statement condemning Craig’s arrest. 

Editor’s note: This alert was updated to clarify that Craig was processed with the protestors inside the bank and that Craig does speak French and was “kettled” by police.