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Gasland director responds to arrest; court date set

Date February 01, 2012

LOS ANGELES, Feb 1 (TheWrap.com) - "GasLand" director Josh Fox has been processed and released following his arrest at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Fox, who was charged with unlawful entry for trying to film a House Science Committee meeting on hydraulic fracturing -- aka "fracking" -- is due in court on the matter February 15.

But just because Fox is a free man again, doesn't mean he's placated. Fox issued a scathing statement from Washington, D.C., on Wednesday following his release.

"I was arrested today for exercising my First Amendment rights to freedom of the press on Capitol Hill," Fox said in the statement. "I was not expecting to be arrested for practicing journalism."

Fox, who's currently working on his sequel to the HBO documentary, characterized his refusal to stop filming the hearing as "an act of civil disobedience" and claimed the Constitutional high ground over the legislators that had shut him out.

"It is my understanding that public speech is allowed to be filmed. Congress should be no exception," Fox asserted. "No one on Capitol Hill should regard themselves exempt from the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution states explicitly 'Congress shall make no law...that infringes on the Freedom of the Press.' Which means that no subcommittee rule or regulation should prohibit a respectful journalist or citizen from recording a public hearing."

Fox and an ABC news crew had attempted to film a hearing to explore the Environmental Protection Agency's investigation into whether the gas and oil-extraction process of hydraulic processing had contaminated the water supply in Pavillion, Wyoming. Fox's 2010, Oscar-nominated documentary "GasLand" covered the topic extensively, as will its sequel.

During Wednesday's incident, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) pleaded to allow Fox and ABC to film the hearing. However, according to Politico, Republicans on the committee tabled Miller's motion.

Toward that end, Fox took a swipe at Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in his statement.

"When I was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs, John Boehner's pledge of transparency in congress was taken out with me," Fox said.

Asserting that hydraulic fragmenting is an environmentally damaging practice, Fox predicted that lawmakers' efforts to keep the hearing under wraps would ultimately prove futile.

"The truth that fracking contaminates groundwater is out, and no amount of intimidation tactics -- either outright challenges to science or the arrest of journalists --will put the genie back in the bottle," Fox said. "Such a brazen attempt to discredit and silence the EPA, the citizens of Pavillion and documentary filmmaking will ultimately fail and it is an affront to the health and integrity of Americans."

(Editing By Zorianna Kit)

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