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February 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Documentary maker Josh Fox, who was nominated for an Oscar last year for his film Gasland, about the impact of natural gas drilling, was arrested on Capitol Hill Wednesday when he attempted to film a Congressiional hearing focusing on the issue. Charged with unlawful entry, Fox was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs. “This is a public hearing!” he shouted as he was being ejected. “I’m being denied my First Amendment rights.” Republican members of the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee said that he did not have proper press credentials to film in the hearing room, But Democrats on the committee urged that Fox be allowed to return and called for a vote — which they lost. Later, Fox told, “There were no other broadcast journalists in the room. … We’ve taped public hearings across the U.S. for three and a half years. We’ve taped hundreds. This is public speech and it’s protected. Our ability to report on it is protected by the First Amendment. And they came to us and said, “You’re in violation of House rules.’ I told them, ‘You’re in violation of the rules of the United States of America, which is the Constitution.” Late Wednesday, New York Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey decried the treatment of Fox. Hinchey, who is co-author of a bill to protect drinking water from the risks of gas drilling, called Fox’s arrest “beyond unacceptable,” noting that “there was plenty of room for cameras” in the hearing room. “This is blatant censorship and a shameful stain on this Congress,” he added.