Police Investigating American Journalists

Yahoo News exposé about a secretive Customs and Border Protection unit that investigated as many as 20 journalists and their contacts by using government databases intended to track terrorists. Those investigated by CBP’s so-called Counter Network Division include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter Martha Mendoza, along with others at The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Members of Congress and their staff may have also been targeted.

The explosive revelations are detailed in a 500-page report by the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog unit, the Office of Inspector General. It opened the probe after news reports that a Border Patrol agent named Jeffrey Rambo conducted a leak investigation in 2017 by accessing government travel records of the reporter Ali Watkins, who was with Politico at the time and now works for The New York Times. Rambo also shared the information he gathered with the FBI.

In response to the report, the Justice Department declined to pursue criminal charges for misuse of government databases and lying to investigators, citing, quote, “the lack of

— source democracynow.org | Dec 14, 2021

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U.K. Court Clears the Way for Julian Assange Extradition to U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could soon face charges in the United States after a U.K. court ruled Friday in favor of the U.S. government’s appeal to extradite him. U.K. Judge Timothy Holroyde said he was satisfied with a pledge from the United States that Assange would not be held in a so-called ADX maximum-security prison in Colorado, despite a U.K. district court ruling in January that said Assange should not be extradited because it would be “oppressive” due to his mental health and that he would likely die by suicide in a U.S. prison. “They can’t guarantee his safety in the U.S. prison system. He will likely die here, if not beforehand,” says Gabriel Shipton, filmmaker and Julian Assange’s brother. “Think about what the precedent will mean around the world if every regime can now point to us and say, ‘We want to extradite these journalists,’” adds Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

A London district judge had ruled in January that Assange should not be extradited because it would be “oppressive” due to his mental health, and that he would likely die by suicide in a U.S. prison. But in a ruling issued this morning, British Judge Timothy Holroyde said he was satisfied with a pledge from the United States that Assange would not be held in a so-called ADX maximum-security prison in Colorado. According to court documents, the U.S. won its appeal to extradite Assange due to, quote, “four assurances” sent in a diplomatic note in February, which include the condition that, quote, “the United States retains the power to designate Mr Assange to ADX in the event that, after entry of this assurance, he was to commit any future act that then meant he met the test for such designation.”

— source democracynow.org | Dec 10, 2021

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The Most Important Battle for Press Freedom in Our Time

For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “harsh conditions” of the inhumane US prison system, “causing him to commit suicide.” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer, charges that could see him imprisoned for 175 years.

Assange, with long white hair, appeared on screen the first day from the video conference room in HM Prison Belmarsh. He was wearing a white shirt with an untied tie around his neck. He looked gaunt and tired. He did not appear in court, the judges explained, because he was receiving a “high dose of medication.” On the second day he was apparently not present in the prison’s video conference room.

Assange is being extradited because his organization WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the Collateral murder video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of

— source scheerpost.com | Chris Hedges | Oct 28, 2021

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Press freedom is not just for journalists

We have all long said this, since 2016, that we are fighting for facts. And when we live in a world where facts are debatable, when the world’s largest distributor of news prioritizes the spread of lies, laced with anger and hate, and spreads it faster and further than facts, then journalism becomes activism. And that’s the transformation that we’ve gone through in Rappler, that we were on quicksand trying to figure out: How do we do what we do? How can journalists continue the mission of journalism? Why is it so difficult to continue telling the community, telling the world what the facts are? Right?

So, in a battle for facts, I guess what this just shows is that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee realized that a world without facts means a world without truth and trust. And if you don’t have any of those things, you certainly can’t conquer coronavirus, you can’t conquer climate change. I’ve been saying this over and over, and it feels a little bit like, you know, Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill. And when you get attacked in the process of trying to roll the rock up the hill, you just kind of dodge. You keep going. You keep going. And it’s a shock, but the fact that a journalist from the Philippines and a journalist from Russia won the Nobel Peace Prize tells you about the state of the world today and the state of the Philippines.

— source democracynow.org | Oct 08, 2021

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The salacious demolition job on Martha Gellhorn

The other day, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism was awarded in honour of the great American reporter who lived in this country until she died three years ago. Gellhorn adhered to no consensus of the kind that shapes and distorts so much journalism. She regarded governments, indeed all authority, as her professional enemies, and their propaganda as “official drivel”.

Almost 20 years ago, during the miners’ strike, the sprightly 75-year-old reporter got into her car and drove into the Welsh valleys. Most of the media were then concentrating on miners’ violence on the picket line, which echoed Thatcher’s “enemy within”. She phoned me from a call box in Newbridge. “Listen,” she said, “you ought to see what the police are doing here. They’re surrounding villages at night and beating the hell out of people. Why isn’t that being reported?” I suggested she report it. “I’ve done it,” she replied.

That’s why the Martha Gellhorn Prize is different. Too many awards these days go to top-of-the-head windbags; few are won by truly independent reporters who bother to go

— source johnpilger.com | john pilger | 16 Apr 2001

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Ecuador strips Julian Assange of citizenship

Ecuador has revoked the citizenship of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who is currently in a British prison. Ecuador’s justice system formally notified the Australian of the nullity of his naturalisation in a letter that came in response to a claim filed by the South American country’s Foreign Ministry. A naturalisation is considered damaging when it is granted based on the concealment of relevant facts, false documents or fraud. Ecuadorian authorities say Assange’s naturalisation letter had multiple inconsistencies, different signatures, the possible alteration of documents and unpaid fees, among other issues. Carlos Poveda, Assange’s lawyer, told The Associated Press the decision was made without due process and Assange was not allowed to appear in the case.

Assange spent seven years holed up inside Ecuador’s London embassy, where he fled in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. Sweden dropped the sex crimes investigations in November 2019 because so much time had elapsed. U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of leaked military and diplomatic documents. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.

— source france24.com | 28/07/2021

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Craig Murray’s jailing is the latest assault on independent journalism

Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, the father of a newborn child, a man in very poor health and one who has no prior convictions, will have to hand himself over to the Scottish police on Sunday morning. He becomes the first person ever to be imprisoned on the obscure and vaguely defined charge of “jigsaw identification”. Murray is also the first person to be jailed in Britain for contempt of court in half a century – a period when such different legal and moral values prevailed that the British establishment had only just ended the prosecution of “homosexuals” and the jailing of women for having abortions.

Murray’s imprisonment for eight months by Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second most senior judge, is of course based entirely on a keen reading of Scottish law rather than evidence of the Scottish and London political establishments seeking revenge on the former diplomat. And the UK supreme court’s refusal on Thursday to hear Murray’s appeal despite many glaring legal anomalies in the case, thereby paving his path to jail, is equally rooted in a strict application of the law, and not influenced in any way by political considerations.

Murray’s jailing has nothing to do with the fact that he embarrassed the British state in the early 2000s by becoming that rarest of things: a whistleblowing diplomat. He

— source jonathan-cook.net | Jonathan Cook | Jul 31, 2021

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How do Google and Facebook threaten the Free Press?

From France to Australia to the US state of Maryland, the free press is waging a battle for survival against Facebook and Google. Besides being gushing firehoses of COVID and election disinformation and QAnon conspiracies, another of Google and Facebook’s dangerous impacts is undermining the financial stability of media outlets all over the world.

Where is the Biden administration and European Commission in this fight? A lot is at stake, yet so far they have been quiet as church mice.

How do Google and Facebook threaten the Free Press? These two companies alone suck up an astounding 60% of all online advertising in the world (outside China). With Amazon taking another 9 percent, that leaves a mere 30% of global digital ad revenue to be split among thousands of media outlets, many of them local publications. With digital online advertising now comprising over half of all ad spendng (and projected to grow further), that has greatly contributed to underfunded and failing news industries in country after country, including in Europe and the US.

Australia’s situation is typical. Its competition commission found that, for every $100 spent by online advertisers in Australia, $47 goes to Google and $24 to Facebook (71%), even as traditional advertising has declined. Various studies have found that the majority of people who access their news online don’t go to the original news source, instead

— source nakedcapitalism.com | Steven Hill | Mar 4, 2021

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PM Modi Among 37 ‘Predators of Press Freedom’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the list of 37 heads of state or government that the global body Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has identified as ‘predators of press freedom’. The entry against Modi notes how his “close ties with billionaire businessmen who own vast media empires” has helped him spread his nationalist-populist ideology through continued coverage of his “extremely divisive and derogatory” speeches. India is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index. RSF is the world’s biggest NGO specialising in the defence of media freedom, which is regarded as a basic human right to be informed and to inform others.

— source thewire.in | Jul 5, 2021

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