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Authorities jammed cellphones during bust, N.D. pipeline protesters claim

CANNON BALL, N.D. -- Dakota Access pipeline protesters believe local and state authorities jammed cellphone coverage during an operation to force activists from a camp they had set up on private land.

But authorities dispute that, saying the spotty nature of cellphone coverage in the remote area is to blame.

Dakota Access Pipeline protest 02:26

More than 140 people were arrested Thursday during a standoff over a camp set up at the site of a planned pipeline in North Dakota. About 200 activists supporting the Standing Sioux Tribe moved onto the site last weekend, setting up teepees and tents and saying the land is rightfully theirs under a more than century-old treaty, according to CBS affiliate KXMB.

Protest spokesman Cody Hall says protesters had difficulty sending texts and livestreams during Thursday’s operation. He says protesters feel their free speech rights were violated.

Morton County sheriff’s spokesman Rob Keller says authorities did not jam cellphones during Thursday’s operation or at any time during the 2 ½ months protests have been ongoing.

Keller says the area has poor cellphone coverage and that multiple people livestreaming events Thursday “reduced the bandwidth and consequently resulted in bad connections.”

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