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article imageJournalists arrested filming Namibian seal cull

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By Bob Ewing     Jul 17, 2009 in Politics
U.K. journalist Jim Wickens and Bart Smithers, a South African filmmaker, were arrested yesterday while filming Namibia’s annual seal cull.
The journalists were filming at Cape Cross, which is closed during the culling season. Any entry into the area is prohibited unless the Ministry of Fisheries gives permission.
The two journalists could be charged for failing to apply for filming permission or accreditation at the Ministry of Information.
Wickens and Smithers were working with for Eco-Storm on a project regarding the Namibian seal slaughter, in conjunction with Dutch NGO Bontvoordieren.
Sealers spotted the pair and assaulted them.
"They were chased and attacked with the clubs used to kill the seals," Wasley said of the journalists.
Namibia plans to kill 91,000 seals this year for fur pelts and to protect fish populations, the same number as last year. The country has not been deterred by a European Union ban on importing seal products.
The two appeared in a magistrates court in the coastal town of Swakopmund.
They were given a choice, a 12 month jail sentence or a fine of 10,000 Namibian dollars each (about $1,200), along with a six-month suspended sentence.
Eco-storm, has agreed to pay the fine
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