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Idaho Photographer Arrested for ‘Public Voyeurism’ for Filming FBI Office

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Idaho man says police violated his First Amendment rights by arresting him for recording video outside of an FBI office.

“I stopped directly across the street and filmed vehicles entering the FBI complex for approximately 10 minutes before a police car drove up behind me,” Sean Johnson wrote to KIFI/KIDK reporter Chris Oswalt in an email. “I was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the complex, near a bus stop. I was just standing there filming, not saying anything to anyone, nor waving my arms around or otherwise causing a commotion.” 

Johnson was approached by an officer who claimed the cameraman was violating the state’s public voyeurism law by recording people without permission. But that law refers to sex crimes.

All federal employees in 2010 were given a three-page memo that states, “Remember the public has the right to photograph the exterior of Federal Buildings from publicly accessible spaces, such as streets, sidewalks, parks or plazas.”

Federal courts have protected the rights of people to photograph and video-record from public space.

“I was taken to jail and held for 15 hours until I paid my bail of $300 directly from my own account,” Johnson wrote in his email. “I have since retained an attorney and the expectation is that the charge of ‘obstruction and delay’ will be dropped by the prosecutor.”


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