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September 28 2019


Breaking The Media Blackout on the Imprisonment of Julian Assange


«It is important to ask ourselves what Julian Assange’s real crime is. In an era, dubbed the Information Age, where the strategy of the powerful appears to be to know as much as possible about the rest of us while ensuring that we know as little as possible about them and how they operate, Assange worked to prevent that imbalance from becoming a rout, and stuck like a bone in the throat of the mighty.

A double chorus of voices across the mainstream media spectrum cheered the destruction of the First Amendment. The New York Times applauded Trump, claiming he’d “done well” to charge Assange with an “indisputable crime.” CNN demanded that Assange finally “face justice,” while others claimed the day in court of the “narcissistic” “internet troll” who attacked America with his “vile spite” was “long overdue.”

All around the world, Assange’s treatment seems to have given the green light to governments to intimidate and hassle journalists. Australian police, for instance, recently conducted a raid on journalist Annika Smethurst’s home. Smethurst had not long before that revealed that the government had been secretly requesting permission to spy on its own citizens. Meanwhile, independent media everywhere are being marginalized by the crackdown on internet freedom.

In a clear sign to the world, Assange held up Gore Vidal’s book The History of the National Security State to the cameras while being dragged from the Ecuadorian Embassy. The book warns of an increasingly powerful and unaccountable authoritarian government taking over the country. Part of that is silencing dissent and limiting or destroying the freedoms centuries of struggle have won us.

If Assange is successfully prosecuted it will send a message to the world that the era of freedom to speak and publish is well and truly over. He will not be the last to be persecuted. The more a power oppresses and takes away rights, the more it needs to oppress and take away rights, until the last vestiges of opposition are destroyed or driven far underground. We cannot expect corporate media to stand up to the corporate state. We have to do it ourselves, or any citizen of the world can be next. Will you heed this warning?»

March 07 2014

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February 15 2014


November 17 2013


“I have been absolutely shocked about the way the Guardian has been treated, from the idea of prosecution to the fact that some members of parliament even called it treason. I think that is unacceptable in a democratic society.”

— Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression (from RT's Nov. 16 report UN envoy 'shocked' by UK's 'unacceptable' persecution of The Guardian over Snowden leaks)

The Guardian as well as other major world media organizations including the New York Times, the Washington Post and Der Spiegel began disclosing details about the US and UK’s mass surveillance programs in June, after receiving leaked documents from former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

The publications have sparked a huge global debate on whether such surveillance powers are justified, but in Britain there have been calls for the Guardian to be prosecuted and the editor, Alan Rusbridger, has been called to give evidence to the home affairs select committee.

The Prime Minister David Cameron has even warned that unless the newspaper begins to demonstrate some social responsibility, then he would take “tougher measures” including the issuing of D notices, which ban a newspaper or broadcaster from touching certain material.

August 22 2013


WikiLeaks: Govts attacks on media ‘signalling rise of fascism in UK, US’ — RT Op-Edge

“Journalists that are working with whistleblowers are under attack. Whistleblowers have been under attack for years, now it’s journalists that are under attack. Every journalist should stand up in defense of journalism. Unfortunately we are seeing some journalist cowards who are not doing that and even calling for an attack on Julian Assange, which is appalling. This is a very serious issue; we are seeing a trend here as I said earlier that people have to respond to very urgently and with strong measures.” — WikiLeaks’ Kristinn Hrafnsson

August 19 2013

‘The world’s most repressive states often identify journalism with terrorism and now the British authorities have crossed a red line by resorting to this practice,’ Reporters Without Borders said. ‘We are very disturbed by this unacceptable violation of the UK’s obligations to respect freedom of information and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. By acting in this arbitrary way, the British authorities have just emphasized how necessary and legitimate Snowden’s and Greenwald’s revelations were.’
Snowden journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner detained at Heathrow (Reporters Without Borders, Aug. 19 2013)

July 20 2013


rt.com (Jul. 19 2013)

“USgovt is getting one step closer to getting crushed under its own weight. Almost beautiful to watch.” — @Liberte_info

  • FISA court renews NSA surveillance program

    The United States government has reportedly asked the FISA court every 90 days since 2006 to renew an order that compels the nation’s telecommunication providers to hand over telephony metadata pertaining to millions of US citizens. The program has been conducted in near total secrecy, however, until NSA leaker Edward Snowden released top-secret documentation to the Guardian newspaper which caused an international backlash upon being published last month.

    In that Guardian article, the paper showed that the NSA could collect metadata for 90 days up until July 19, at which point that power would expire if a reauthorization was not resubmitted. Just moments before the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday, though, the Officer of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that the FISA court has reaffirmed that authority.

    “On June 6, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program,” the statement reads in part. “Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority.”

  • Court rules journalists can’t keep their sources secret

    A lower court ruled previously that [New York Times journalist James] Risen could protect the source responsible for sharing intelligence about a CIA operation discussed in his writing, but the US Court of Appeals from the Fourth Circuit reversed that decision Friday morning with a 2-1 vote.

    “The reporter must appear and give testimony just as every other citizen must. We are not at liberty to conclude otherwise,” Chief Judge William Traxler Jr. wrote for the majority opinion.

    The appeal panel’s decision came just days after United States Attorney General Eric Holder presented President Barack Obama with a proposal that would re-shape current law as it applies to journalists in order to more greatly ensure that reporters aren’t targeted during investigations unless other routes that exhausted first. That maneuver came on the heels of two highly public recent Justice Department scandals in which the White House was revealed to have subpoenaed the phones records for several Associated Press offices and also the email history of Fox News reporter James Rosen.

    "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law," Obama said during a May 23 address after those scandals first surfaced.

    With Friday’s ruling, the appeals court weighed whether or not an established precedent would prevent Risen from being asked to disclose the source of his information, but Traxler said, “so long as the subpoena is issued in good faith and is based on a legitimate need of law enforcement, the government need not make any special showing to obtain evidence of criminal conduct from a reporter in a criminal proceeding.”

    Next Risen will be expected to testify in the Espionage Act-case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official accused of disclosing details about a Clinton administration plan to put faulty nuclear weapon blueprints to Iran in an effort to slow down their race to acquiring a nuke. He previously said he’d refuse to speak of his source, however, which would now open up the possibility of being held in contempt of court.

June 26 2013


Ai Weiwei – ambassador for Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Without Borders

“I am happy to support Reporters Without Borders,” Ai Weiwei has said. “Human rights activists in China know about this important organisation. For an artist, a designer, it’s of the utmost importance to be able to express the truth and the reality of the world.” The Secretary general of RWB, Christophe Deloire, says “Ai Weiwei embodies the spirit of resistance shown by many of those faced with abusive regimes; it’s a huge encouragement for us that such a fascinating personality has agreed to become an ambassador for Reporters Without Borders.”

May 10 2013


【Twitter】 Fukushima Crisis Coverage: is there journalism in Japan?

  • @davidwagnerasia: Attending a presentation by NYT Bureau Chief Martin Fackler at I-House in Tokyo. The theme: Japanese journalism during 3/11...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Initial coverage of the Fukushima crisis on NHK was pretty good"....

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "When CNN arrives, it's time to leave. The story is over"....

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Pack journalism (In groups) created competition. Japanese journalists are like accountants focused on numbers"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Where I have a problem with the day the crisis was covered was related to the nuclear coverage"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "YouTube use by officials in Tohoku had a big impact"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Japanese journalists were writing everything was okay, but the journalists were running away"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Damage due to baseless rumors was a criticism used against foreign media related to a meltdown"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Proclamation of safety (used for food safety) unraveled once independent testing of rice was done in Fukushima city"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "The Japanese media were saying the same things as officials to downplay the risk. That's not our job"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "The Japanese media have not captured the anger of people in Fukushima"....

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "The US view was dangerous until proven safe. The Japanese view was safe until proven dangerous"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Regarding food safety, there was a tendency to trust official views and ignore others"....

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "The public in Japan is very mistrustful of the media. Journalists don't seem to have much self-reflection"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Japanese journalism is always authority and action"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "The Press Club is full of journalists waiting for news feed....like birds in a nest waiting to be fed"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "if you criticize in Japan, you are cut off from reporting. It creates passive journalism"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Journalism in Japan is not a profession. They are like salarymen... A part of the system"....

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Japanese journalists tend to side with the authorities"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "It's amazing to me that the same people who caused the Fukushima plant disaster are still running the show"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: Fackler: "Japanese journalists don't see the Press Clubs as a problem"...

  • @davidwagnerasia: A truly interesting talk by Martin Fackler. Hard to believe it was all "on-the-record"!...

April 29 2013


February 08 2013


“blatant threat”

  • @HirokoTabuchi: Just got threatened by Japan govt agency that I'll never be allowed access to them again if I don't stop asking for comment on certain issue

  • @HirokoTabuchi: Even in Japan, it's rare to come across such a blatant threat against press coverage. But this is how everyone is kept in line.

October 18 2012


After Malala shooting, Taliban goes after media critics - Blog - Committee to Protect Journalists

...Hamid Mir, the popular, controversial television anchor for Geo TV and a widely read columnist...sent along a copy of a seven-page open letter from Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan; Mir was concerned because his name is mentioned about five times, and he is accused of being "un-Islamic. "

The message offers up a justification for the killing of Malala, who the Taliban consider to be an adult (She has been variously reported as 14 or 15 years old). The group wrote that women who abide by sharia are not supposed to be killed, but it is permitted, even dutiful, to kill those who aren't as virtuous. The statement singles out the role of Malala, who had blogged for the BBC, in supposedly spreading propaganda against Muslims.

"This is the second email from the Taliban in 24 hours. They are freely using emails, calling our colleagues on their mobile phones and the government is doing nothing except telling us 'The Taliban will kill you,'" Mir said by email. He was referring to official notices sent to journalists by local police that they "are on the hit list of the [Pakistani] Taliban to be targeted," and offering police protection. None of the journalists we contacted who had received such notices wanted us to use their names-- understandable given the increased level of threat they are facing. But local journalists and news reports did say that the Interior Ministry has increased security near media organizations.

Many Pakistani reporters tell us of having to deal with a constant fear of retaliation if any of the many sides to the conflict in Pakistan should be unhappy with their reporting. And the Taliban, in some cases, have claimed responsibility for killing journalists. But while not media friendly, the Taliban have become very media savvy, making full use of the Internet and other digital platforms and keeping local and international journalists on their speed dial to make sure they are heard.

May 08 2012


China shuts out Al-Jazeera English in Beijing - Committee to Protect Journalists

“Surveillance and harassment are the norm for reporters on the China beat, and authorities will often delay visa approval or threaten to revoke it as part of an overall strategy of intimidation. But effectively shuttering an international news outlet is a disturbing development.” ― Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator

June 28 2011


Israel should not intimidate reporters covering flotilla - Committee to Protect Journalists

On Sunday, Israel's Government Press Office announced that journalists aboard the ships would be subjected to a 10-year ban on entering Israel and "to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions." Following domestic and international outcry, authorities altered their stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that "journalists whose credentials are recognized by Israel" would not be subject to a 10-year ban, Reuters reported. But the prime minister's statement did not address the government's plans to confiscate footage and equipment, or its threat of "additional sanctions."

"CPJ is relieved that Israel has dropped a threatened 10-year entry ban on journalists covering this story, but it must do more," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "It must ensure that all journalists can report on the flotilla freely and without the threat of confiscation of recordings and equipment."

The Foreign Press Association in Israel, which represents hundreds of journalists working for international news outlets, said in a statement that "the government's threat to punish journalists covering the Gaza flotilla sends a chilling message to the international media and raises serious questions about Israel's commitment to freedom of the press." It added that "journalists covering a legitimate news event should be allowed to do their jobs without threats and intimidation."

December 03 2010

Utterly surreal: Pravda justifiably criticising US for trying to stifle a free press bit.ly/hD2zst How times change.
— WikiLeaks (via Twitter)

November 17 2010


Singapore gives jail time to writer critical of death penalty - Committee to Protect Journalists

High Court Judge Quentin Loh said he imposed the harsh penalty in order to send "a signal to those who hope to profit from controversy," the Wall Street Journal reported. In addition to the prison term and the fine, the author was also told to pay 55,000 Singapore dollars (US $42,000) for legal costs.

Shadrake's book questions the impartiality and independence of Singapore's courts in applying the death sentence. His research drew on interviews with a former executioner, human rights activists, and lawyers, as well as court documents. At his sentencing, Loh said the author had employed "a dissembling and selective background of truths and half-truths, and sometimes outright falsehoods." Shadrake told The Guardian after his conviction that the book contained a minor inaccuracy but was otherwise "devastatingly accurate."

Based in Malaysia, Shadrake was arrested in July when he visited Singapore for a book launch. His passport has been seized, and authorities have said that they are also considering criminal defamation charges, according to news reports.

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