‘Investigate Saudi crown prince for murdering journalist’


This 19 June 2019 video says about itself:

U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard gives live interview as her final report on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is released.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

United Nations rapporteur wants investigation of role of Saudi Crown Prince in Khashoggi case

A UN Special Rapporteur wants a criminal investigation into the role of high-ranking Saudis in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The UN must insist that the responsibility of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should also be looked at, says the special UN rapporteur for extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard in a report.

“The guilt has not yet been established. The only conclusion is that there is credible evidence and that further investigation is needed”, she writes. According to her, Crown Prince Mohammed played a key role in the campaign against dissidents. She considers it unthinkable that an operation like this could take place without his knowledge.

Saudi Arabia did not cooperate in the investigation. Callamard was not allowed to interrogate people in that country. She was also not allowed to enter the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was murdered on October 2 last year.

She did have access to sound recordings made by the Turkish secret service in the consulate. Khashoggi came to the consulate in Istanbul to arrange papers for his marriage. According to Callamard, two Saudi secret agents spoke shortly before his arrival how they would cut his body into pieces.

Once inside, Khashoggi was told that he would be taken to Saudi Arabia, the recordings show. His interrogator instructed him to send an email to his son. Then sounds of struggle can be heard. Khashoggi must have been killed afterwards. His remains have not been found.

Eleven suspects are on trial for the murder in Saudi Arabia. That happens behind closed doors. The names of most suspects were not disclosed.

So, there is a kangaroo court trial for a few low-level fall guys. Aiming at beheading them, so they won’t ever be able to tell who (His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman) ordered them to murder Khashoggi.

CALL FOR SAUDI PRINCE TO BE INVESTIGATED OVER KHASHOGGI DEATH An independent UN human rights expert investigating the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is calling for an investigation into the possible involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing “credible evidence”. [AP]

Australian journalism on war crimes, spying: criminal?


This 4 June 2019 video says about itself:

ABC’s Sydney headquarters raided by Australian federal police

AFP officers have raided the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ultimo headquarters over reporting from 2017 looking into the clandestine operations of Australian special forces in Afghanistan. ABC news presenter Joe O’Brien was live on air as the AFP entered the building.

‘There’s a raid happening right here at the ABC … just 100 metres or so that way’, he said to camera while pointing over his shoulder. The ABC warrant names the broadcaster’s national reporting team reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, as well as ABC news boss Gaven Morris.

The raid on the national broadcaster comes less than 24 hours after the AFP served News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst a warrant to search her Canberra home, phone and computer, 14 months after she published a story over a top-secret proposal to expand the nation’s domestic surveillance agency’s capabilities.

After the Trump administration in the USA attacked press freedom which had uncovered war crimes in the USA, and the Macron administration in France attacked press freedom in order to cover up French governmental complicity in Saudi war crimes in Yemen

By Oscar Grenfell in Australia:

Australian Federal Police raid journalists over exposures of government spying, war crimes

5 June 2019

Over the past 24 hours, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has carried out two raids targeting separate media organisations, for their publication of articles exposing government spying plans and war crimes committed by Australian troops in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, AFP officers raided the home of Sunday Telegraph political editor Annika Smethurst in the Australian Capital Territory over an article she wrote in April 2018, revealing a secret government proposal to enable the Australian Signals Directorate to conduct domestic spying operations.

After 11 a.m. today, AFP officers entered the Sydney building of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) with a search warrant, referencing 2017 reports detailing the involvement of Australian troops in extrajudicial killings and other violations of international law in Afghanistan.

The raids are a major assault on freedom of the press. They are a dramatic escalation of a protracted campaign by the Liberal-National Coalition, the Labor Party opposition, and the entire political establishment, to criminalise the exposure of government crimes on the pretext of protecting “national security.”

The police warrant for the search of Smethurst’s house allowed them to examine her computers and mobile phones. An AFP statement said that the raid was part of “an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information” and “alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret.”

The investigation is reportedly over an April 2018 article by Smethurst, revealing that the Coalition government was moving to enable the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the country’s main electronic eavesdropping agency, to carry out domestic spying operations, including against Australian citizens.

The ASD is legally barred from spying on Australian targets. Under existing legislation, it can only provide “technical advice” to the AFP and the domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

Already, in 2013, however, US government documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the ASD collaborated with the US National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance operations, likely including against Australian citizens.

The government’s proposed changes in 2018 would have formalised these spying operations, giving the ASD the power to access bank accounts, text messages, emails and other electronic communications. Smethurst’s report indicated that it was seeking to expand warrantless surveillance, allowing ASD snooping with ministerial permission rather than a court order.

The proposal came just months after the Coalition government, with the support of the Labor opposition, established a new Home Affairs Ministry overseeing the operations of ASIO, the AFP and the Australian Border Force. This was aimed at creating a body, modelled on the US Department of Homeland Affairs, to integrate the operations of the security agencies to enable further attacks on democratic rights.

When the 2018 revelations were made public they were dismissed by Coalition Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as “nonsense”. Smethurst’s story, however, was immediately referred to the AFP for investigation.

News Corp Australia, the Murdoch-owned company which publishes the Sunday Telegraph responded to the raid yesterday by branding it “outrageous and heavy-handed”.

Defenders of civil liberties warned of the far-reaching implications of the raid.

Greg Barns, spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, stated: “Scrutiny of government agencies by the media is critical to a democracy, and it is very concerning that these security agencies seem to want to avoid any examination.”

Digital Rights Watch described the raids as a “gross abuse of national security powers”.

The government has doubled-down. Asked if he was concerned about journalist’s homes being raided, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared: “It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld.”

Morrison’s comments came amid indications that the raid on Smethurst is part of a broader crackdown on the press after the government was reinstalled in a federal election last month.

2GB presenter and Sky News commentator Ben Fordham yesterday revealed that after he aired a story about up to six refugee boats having recently travelled towards Australia, he was contacted by senior officials from the Home Affairs department.

They stated that they would be “investigating” the disclosure and asked Fordham to give up his source. Under Australia’s draconian border protection regime, refugee boat arrivals are subject to national security secrecy laws, even if those on board perish, or if they are intercepted by Australian Border Force or naval officers.

The approach to Fordham, who said yesterday he was concerned he could also be targeted with a raid, was followed by this morning’s attempt to search the ABC building.

While reports are scanty, the warrant reportedly names ABC investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, along with director of news, Gaven Morris. AFP officers are seeking to obtain thousands of emails, files, passwords and written documents from April 2016 and July 2017. They are reportedly investigating the 2017 publication of “The Afghan Files”, which exposed the killing of unarmed civilians by Australian troops, the desecration of corpses and other war crimes covered up by military command.

The two raids are part of a broader campaign against government whistleblowers. The government, with the support of Labor, is prosecuting a former intelligence officer, dubbed Witness K, and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, for exposing an Australian espionage operation against the tiny state of East Timor.

David McBride, a former Australian military lawyer, also faces the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence if he is convicted over the alleged leak of documents to journalists containing evidence of war crimes committed in Afghanistan by Australia’s Special Forces.

Successive Labor and Coalition governments have expanded laws which abolish any whistleblower protections, even if leaks expose illegal actions.

The raid against Smethurst, however, raises the prospect of prosecutions of journalists and media organisations for publishing leaked material, in a direct attack on freedom of the press.

This was signalled by the phrasing of the warrant, which reportedly stated that the raid was partly in relation to the “alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret, which is an extremely serious matter that has the potential to undermine Australia’s national security.”

The phrasing corresponds to Espionage and Foreign Interference legislation passed last year by the Coalition, with the full support of Labor. The new laws make it a criminal offense to “deal with” information that “harms” “national security”. “Deal with” is defined to cover a long list of activities: “collect”, “possess”, “make a record of”, “copy”, “alter”, “conceal”, “communicate”, “publish” and “make available”.

Journalists have a limited defence, if they “reasonably believe” the information they published was in the public interest. However, this proviso is entirely undefined and subject to interpretation, meaning that journalists and media organisations could still face prosecution.

The AFP raids are part of a deepening assault on the democratic rights of the population, which is aimed at suppressing growing opposition to militarism, war, social inequality and the escalating expansion of police powers. In both cases, journalists who have revealed evidence of crimes by the government and military are raided and implicitly threatened with criminal prosecution.

This is part of a broader drive by governments around the world to abolish freedom of the press and other fundamental civil liberties. The sharpest expression is the attempt by the US administration of President Donald Trump to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in exposing US war crimes and diplomatic intrigues.

The author also recommends:

Australia’s new secrecy laws block exposure of government crimes [14 July 2018]

Australia’s foreign interference laws threaten whistleblowers and media freedom [9 July 2019]

Australian police chief links media raids to US-led “Five Eyes” spy network: here.

“Is there going to be a future for journalism?” Australian media workers denounce police raids: here.

Two prominent criminal trials of whistleblowers, whose leaks exposed war crimes and illegal operations by the country’s US-linked military and intelligence services, are likely to be largely conducted behind closed doors after the Australian government issued “national security information” certificates: here.

The global war on journalism: here.

Macron against free speech in France


This 23 May 2019 French France Inter video says about itself (translated):

When the secret police summons the journalists

Several journalists have been summonsed recently by the General Directorate for Internal Security. Yesterday, we learned about the summoning of Ariane Chemin, a journalist at Le Monde, by the General Directorate for Internal Security. We say, the “DGSI”. Reason: her revelations about the Benalla affair and about others close to the Elysee [presidential palace of Emmanuel Macron].

Astonishment. Even the Washington Post in the United States wrote about it tonight. What do investigators want to know? Who are the sources of Ariane Chemin? What documents does she possess? Is there an attempt to intimidate?

The case is all the more disturbing as, at the same time, a number of journalists (eight to our knowledge), is being summoned one after the other by the DGSI for their work on what, this time? On French arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Are there banned subjects in our country?

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Summons for Le Monde reporter amid scandal

FRENCH unions and campaign groups warned of a worrying clampdown on free speech today, after Le Monde reporter Ariane Chemin became the fifth journalist to receive a summons in recent weeks.

Her call to meet French intelligence services is believed to have stemmed from her reporting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s former aide Alexandre Benalla.

Ms Chemin broke the news in May 2018 that Mr Benalla had posed as a police officer to attack protesters at a [May Day] demonstration.

The reporting caused a scandal, after it was revealed that Mr Benalla held several diplomatic passports months after he was sacked, allowing him to meet a number of African leaders.

It emerged that Mr Benalla had allegedly negotiated financial deals with Russian oligarchs, including one between former French air officer Chokri Wakrim and Iskander Makhmudov, who is alleged to have links to the Russian mafia.

Mr Wakrim’s wife Marie-Elodie Poitout was forced to resign as head of security at Matignon after it was revealed that she had hosted Mr Benalla at the [Matignon] prime minister’s residence after his sacking.

Mr Macron survived a vote of no confidence last year, however, the scandal has continued to plague his government.

The journalist has been summoned for “committing or attempting to commit the offence of revealing or disclosing, by any means, any information that could lead, directly or indirectly, to the identification of a person as a member of special forces.”

She could face jail if found guilty.

However, Le Monde defended Ms Chemin and said in an editorial: “We express our worries regarding this summons: the public interest implies the capacity to investigate the links and relationships of collaborators of the Elysee and Matignon, whatever their previous careers.”

Last week two journalists from the NGO Disclose and one from Radio France’s investigation department were summoned regarding the publication of revelations on French weapons used in the war in Yemen.

Committee to Protect Journalists co-ordinator Gulzona Said said: “We are concerned by French police summoning journalists of different media outlets, including Le Monde, over their reports.

“It is of vital importance for a free press that journalists are able to work uncensored while protecting the confidentiality of their sources.

“French authorities should respect that, and allow journalists to continue informing the French public about an important news story.”

Ukrainian government bans newspaper for quoting Marx


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) receives a medal from Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko

On this photo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) receives a medal from Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ukrainian newspaper faces ban – for quoting Marx

UKRAINIAN journalists have called for international solidarity as press freedom comes under attack, with workers’ newspaper Rabochaya Gazeta facing closure under reactionary anti-communist laws.

The newspaper’s editor Anatoly Krivolapov appealed to progressives across the world to protest against the attacks on freedom of speech and the legal measures being used against media organisations critical of the Ukrainian government.

“Your principled position and support will contribute not only to the preservation of our publication, but also to enhance the role of other media in the achievement of rule of law, social justice, public order and peace in our long-suffering country,” he said.

Rabochaya Gazeta was first published in August 1897 and aims “to honestly and fully disclose the real situation in Ukraine” including exposing the activities of government bodies and a critique of state policies.

However, authorities are seeking to ban the newspaper using a law that outlaws the use and display of communist symbols. The Ministry of Justice cited articles in Rabochaya Gazeta quoting Lenin and Marx, along with commentary praising the achievements of Ukraine during the Soviet period.

Ukraine has previously been warned by the Council of Europe over the introduction of the legislation. The council said that it must protect freedom of expression and comply with international laws.

The Vienna Convention said the law, On Condemnation of the Communist and National Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and the Prohibition of the Promotion of Their Symbols

This law has a hypocritical name. On the one hand, what happens to an Ukrainian singing the Internationale; the song not just of communist, but also social democrat parties all over the world? That Ukrainian gets a two year prison term if singing it alone. Fife years imprisonment for singing it in a choir.

On the other hand, Ukrainian officers of Adolf Hitler’s SS get honoured with governmental monuments. And it is illegal to criticize World War II nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and similar politicians.

As for symbols: see the logo of today’s Ukrainian Azov battalion.

Azov battalion symbol

This picture (also reproduced on the Facebook page of the Dutch NVU nazi party) shows the symbol of the Ukrainian Kiev government’s Azov battalion; source: here. It is the wolfsangel, or wolf’s hook. Which used to be a symbol in Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS. It was also the symbol of the Dutch nazi party NSB in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Azov battalion logo has, behind its black wolfsangel, also another nazi SS symbol, depicted in white: the ‘schwarze Sonne‘ or black sun; ‘taken from the pattern on the floor of the northern tower of Wewelsburg castle, which Heinrich Himmler had rebuilt. It looks like a combination of a spider web and a swastika.’

– was a breach of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and voting rights.

However, Mr Krivolapov warned that under the regime of former president Poroshenko, “totalitarian methods of government were introduced…an open struggle was started against dissent and freedom of speech, journalists were persecuted and killed.”

“Our publication criticised the national oligarchic group headed by president Poroshenko for total corruption…unemployment and the sharp impoverishment of the majority of the population…the war in the Donbass, the propaganda of fascism”, he said.

He said the attack on Rabochaya Gazeta was also a threat to “other newspapers, magazines and TV channels attacked by the regime” and the basic principles of press freedom.

“We call for authoritative international organisations and colleagues abroad to express their protest against the legal arbitrariness against the media, and to stand for the protection of freedom of speech in Ukraine.”

Trump attacks press freedom, Chelsea Manning says


This 14 April 2019 video from the USA is called ‘We are not going to shut up’: New York protesters demand freedom for Assange and Manning.

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams in the USA:

Chelsea Manning warns the Trump Administration ‘clearly wants to go after journalists’

May 12, 2019

Facing the possibility of being imprisoned yet again in the coming days for refusing to testify before a secretive grand jury, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning on Sunday warned of…

Facing the possibility of being imprisoned yet again in the coming days for refusing to testify before a secretive grand jury, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning on Sunday warned of the grave threat the Trump administration poses to press freedoms.

“I think that ultimately what they really want is, they want to go after journalists,” Manning said during an interview on CNN when asked whether the Trump administration’s effort to extradite WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange to the U.S. is a danger to the free press.

“This administration clearly wants to go after journalists,” Manning said. “I think that if the administration gets its way… we’re probably gonna see indictments and charges.”

“Whenever a journalist makes a misstep,” she added, “I think that they’re put on notice now that the FBI and the Department of Justice are going to go after them, on the administration’s behalf.”

As Common Dreams reported, Manning was released from jail on Friday after being held for 62 days—including a month in solitary confinement—for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

On CNN, Manning said she plans to fight a second subpoena to testify that was issued before she was even released from jail. According to Manning’s legal team, she could be held in contempt of court and sent to jail again as early as Thursday, May 16.

“I think that all grand juries are improper,” Manning told CNN‘s Brian Stelter. “I don’t like the secrecy of it.”

Whistleblower and political prisoner Chelsea Manning spoke out Sunday in defense of her principled refusal to testify before any grand jury impaneled to bring frame-up charges against journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: here.

London public meeting demands the freedom of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning: here.