French journalists arrested at Australia anti-coal protest

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France 2 reporter Hugo Clement and three members of his film crew were among seven people arrested at a protest against a vast coal mining project in Australia

France 2 reporter Hugo Clement and three members of his film crew were among seven people arrested at a protest against a vast coal mining project in Australia (AFP Photo/Handout)

Sydney (AFP) - A French television crew filming a protest against a newly approved Indian-owned coal mine was arrested by Australian police Monday and charged with trespassing.

Construction of the Adani project near the Great Barrier Reef has been under fierce debate for almost a decade, with environmentalists warning that fossil fuels damage the climate.

France 2 reporter Hugo Clement and three members of his film crew were among seven people arrested at the demonstration, at a coal-loading facility for the mine in central Queensland state.

The crew was charged with one count each of trespassing on a railway, police said.

"We were just filming the action of those people and we don't know why but police decided to arrest us," Clement told national broadcaster ABC.

"We are not part of the action, we are not activists, just journalists."

Under strict bail conditions, Clement is prohibited from going within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the mine site, ABC reported.

The film crew has been ordered to appear before a local court in Bowen on September 3, police said.

Authorities approved the construction of the open-cut Adani mine, which is slated to produce up to 27 million tonnes of coal a year, last month.

Conservationists say the project threatens local vulnerable species and means coal will have to be shipped from a port near the World Heritage-listed Barrier Reef.

Supporters say it will bring hundreds of much-needed jobs to rural Queensland.