04/04/2014 05:51 pm ET

Toledo Blade Sues Government Officials After Journalists Detained


The Toledo Blade newspaper in Ohio sued federal officials on Friday, alleging the detention of two journalists violated their constitutional rights.

Blade reporter Tyrel Linkhorn and photographer Jetta Fraser were taking photos of the General Dynamics tank plant in Lima, Ohio, for a story last week. Military police stopped the pair in the driveway of the factory, detained them and confiscated their cameras -- after they had identified themselves as journalists, the Blade reported. Photos the journalists had taken were deleted.

The Blade's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, contends police unlawfully detained and restrained Linkhorn and Fraser, confiscated their equipment, and deprived the journalists of their rights under the Constitution's First, Fourth and Fifth amendments. It named three members of the military police, as well as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges the police referred to Fraser "in terms denoting the masculine gender." When Fraser asked officers refer to her accurately, the lawsuit says, one defendant "threatened a physical assault, saying 'You say you are a female, I'm going to go under your bra."

In an interview earlier with The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone, Blade managing editor Dave Murray said, “It’s pretty outrageous to us that our journalists would be treated this way.”

For its part, the military said that the journalists were on private property, which it claimed rendered the Blade's photographs "unauthorized." Linkhorn and Fraser contend that they were on "public" property taking photographs of scenes visible from the street.