West Virginia reporter jailed after
questioning U.S. health secretary
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[May 11, 2017]
By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) - A West Virginia journalist was
arrested and jailed after following U.S. Health and Human Services
Secretary Tom Price down a hallway in the state's capitol building and
peppering him with questions about healthcare policy, the reporter said.
Journalist Dan Heyman was grabbed by security and handcuffed after
repeatedly calling out a question to Price as the health secretary
visited the Charleston legislature with White House advisor Kellyanne
Conway on Tuesday, Heyman said at a press conference after the incident.
"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," said Heyman, who works for Public News Service, a
nonprofit news operation.
A criminal complaint filed against Heyman in Kanawha County, West
Virginia said he was "yelling questions" at Price and Conway and
"aggressively breaching secret service agents to the point where the
agents were forced to remove him a couple of times."
Heyman said he repeatedly asked Price if domestic abuse would be deemed
a pre-existing condition under the healthcare bill passed last week by
the U.S. House of Representatives, but the official did not respond.
Price was appointed by Republican President Donald Trump, who has often
taken an adversarial position in his dealings with the news media.
"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's office and the White House did not respond to requests for
Heyman said he was held by security and later arrested on a charge of
willful disruption of state government processes. He was booked into a
local jail and released shortly after on $5,000 bail.
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West Virginia reporter Daniel Ralph Heyman is pictured in this
undated police handout photo received May 10, 2017. West Virginia
Police/Handout via REUTERS
Heyman said he was wearing a press badge and shirt with his
employer's logo on it at the time of his apprehension. He said he
was not warned by security guards or police that he was breaking the
Advocates for civil liberties and journalists' rights denounced the
arrest and said Heyman was punished for doing his constitutionally
"Mr. Heyman's arrest is a blatant attempt to chill an independent,
free press," the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia
said in a statement. It called for the criminal charges to be
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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