The leader of the neo-fascist group Atalante, whose members attempted to intimidate VICE journalists last month in Montreal, is facing criminal charges.
Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, which represents VICE workers through its biggest Local, the Canadian Media Guild, applauded news of the arrest of Raphael Lévesque. He and several of the group’s members had burst into the company’s offices on May 23 to protest an article by reporter Simon Coutu.
The union strongly condemned the incident as an attack on freedom of the press that must be punished and called on police to take action.
Lévesque has been ordered to appear in court in Montreal on Aug. 16, when he will be formally charged with breaking and entering, mischief, intimidation and criminal harassment.
“Journalism is a pillar of a healthy democracy and this sends an important message that our society will not tolerate the harassment or intimidation of media workers,” said O’Hanlon.
“CWA Canada will be watching closely to ensure any future harassment is swiftly prosecuted in order to protect our members and freedom of the press.”
Montreal police say there are seven other suspects in the case and that there could be more arrests.
The incursion into the VICE offices featured several men, dressed in black and masked in the colours of the Quebec flag. They marched around, shouted and threw leaflets at workers, then surrounded Coutu and presented him with a mock prize denigrating his work.
Coutu has written about the growing presence in Montreal of the Quebec City-based Atalante and its links to the far-right group Soldiers of Odin.