Four journalists working for the public television network France 2 have been charged with trespassing for filming a protest near the Abbot Point coal terminal, in North Queensland, targeting the operations of the Adani group.
The group of journalists includes Hugo Clement, a reporter well known in France for his documentaries about climate change and environmental issues.
Clement and a crew were arrested while filming anti-coal activists from the group Frontline Action on Coal, which early on Monday morning set up a blockade outside the Abbot Point port. About 20 members of the environmental group gathered outside the port entrance from 7am. Two locked themselves to a concrete barrel on the roadway.
In a statement, Frontline Action on Coal said Clement and others were told by police they were “obstructing the railway” while filming the protests.
“Without warning, all four Frenchmen were immediately placed in handcuffs and put into police vehicles,” the statement said.
The group was taken to a police station in the nearby town of Bowen. They were released on bail on Monday afternoon and ordered to face the local magistrates court in September.
In a statement, Queensland police confirmed they arrested seven people, including three French nationals who were charged with one count of “trespassing on a railway”.
“The Queensland police service supports lawful and peaceful protest and is committed to working with groups to plan and facilitate lawful activities,” police said in a statement.
Protestors from several anti-coal groups have visibly increased their activity in recent weeks, since Adani cleared environmental regulatory hurdles that allowed the company to begin construction of the Carmichael coalmine.
Monday’s protests were timed to coincide with the start of significant land-clearing near the Carmichael mine site. In Brisbane members of a separate group, Galilee Blockade, blocked access to the headquarters of a concrete pumping company that has worked for Adani.
The actions follow weeks of regular and escalating protests that have delayed traffic in the Brisbane central business district.
The opposition Liberal National party in Queensland has responded by calling for the introduction of “industrial sabotage” laws that partly seek to hold organised groups liable for the protest actions of individual members.
“Enough is enough, we need to come down tough on these people,” the Queensland opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, told reporters on Monday. “Everyone has a right to protest, but no one has a right to intimidate and threaten people’s jobs.”