Journalists covering the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July were subject to assaults, intimidation and some lost their accreditation, according to verified incidents documented by Index on Censorship’s project Mapping Media Freedom.
Several journalists reported that they were assaulted by police while covering protests against the meeting, which included leaders of the 19 largest industrial nations in the world plus the EU. Leading up to the summit, freelance journalist Martin Eimermacher was assaulted while police were clearing a protest camp in Hamburg on 2 July, according to Netzpolitik and Jetzt.
Police had demolished protesters’ tents when Eimermacher tried to leave the area, telling police he felt unwell. He said that officers pushed him and several other journalists to the centre of a field. He showed his press card, which was slapped out of his hand by a police officer who then pepper sprayed him.
“In my opinion the most dangerous thing is that this sets an example within Germany and beyond, that such treatment of journalists is acceptable,” Mapping Media Freedom Germany correspondent Pascale Müller said. “There seemed to have been, on an individual level of police officers, a severe lack of understanding of the rights of the press and their role as an observer and part of a healthy democracy.”
On 7 July, ITN News journalist Flo Smith, his producer and cameraperson were all pepper sprayed by police. Photojournalist Henry Langston of Vice UK was struck by a police water cannon. RT UK published a video in which police assaulted and injured photojournalist Zino Peterk, who later had to go to the hospital for his injuries.
On 8 July, Spiegel Online photographer Chris Grodotzki said police assaulted him with pepper spray while he was covering protests in Schulterblatt. Taz reporter Martin Kaul sustained minor injuries when he was hit by protesters while live-streaming the demonstration, according to Deutschlandfunk. Müller noted that some attacks by protesters targeted journalists they perceived as right-wing, “but in some cases it seems that people were already so ‘high on violence’ that they hurt journalists regardless of their political affiliation.”