Prosecutors have dropped charges against a reporter in West Virginia who was arrested earlier this summer for asking questions at a Trump administration event.
Dan Heyman was arrested on May 9 after he aggressively questioned Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price during a healthcare event at the state’s capitol. At the time, Heyman said he was “just doing his job” as a member of the media before he was handcuffed by police. He was charged with willfully disrupting a state governmental process or meeting.
Prosecutors in West Virginia announced on Wednesday that they were dropping the charges after a “careful review of the facts.” They found that Heyman’s actions were not unlawful.
“Facing six months of jail time for asking a question as a journalist was pretty troubling,” Heyman said in a statement. “I don’t want my arrest to have a chilling effect on other reporters because we all need to keep asking the tough questions of elected officials.”
Heyman was arrested after he attempted to ask Price whether domestic violence would be listed as a pre-existing condition under the House of Representatives’ American Health Care Act—the Republicans initial attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act.
After Price didn’t answer, Heyman said he became “persistent” in asking his question, prompting police to arrest him. Following his arrest, the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Committee to Protect Journalists vehemently condemned his arrest.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received from all over the country,” Heyman said. “The intense response to my arrest gives me confidence that people will defend the free press because they believe in it.”