Category Archives: Security

FACEBOOK: MEPs invite Frances Haugen

Strasbourg 18.10.2021 Lead MEPs from the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee decided to invite Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to a hearing on 8 November.(Image: European Parliament,illustration)

The decision to organise a public hearing in the European Parliament on “Whistleblowers’ testimonies on the negative impact of big tech companies’ products on users” was taken this afternoon by the Chair and the coordinators of the political groups in the committee. After the meeting, Chair Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA, DE) said:

“Whistleblowers like Frances Haugen show the urgent need to set democratic rules for the online world in the interest of users. Her revelations lay bare the inherent conflict between the platform’s business model and users’ interests. It shows that we need strong rules for content moderation and far-reaching transparency obligations in Europe.

It also shows that corporate self-regulation has not worked. With the Digital Services Act, the European Union is on the right track to fight hate speech and disinformation online by addressing business models that use algorithms to sell more advertising, even if this has a detrimental effect on society. We need to regulate the whole system that favours disinformation and violence over factual content – and we need to enforce it effectively.

All allegations in the ‘Facebook Files’ must be investigated. As the Internal Market Committee is currently negotiating the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, a public hearing with Frances Haugen will enrich the democratic discourse and our current legislative work in the committees concerned”.

UK Conservative MP stabbed in church

Brussels 16.10.2021 The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli expressed his sorrow, reacting upon the news of knife stabbing of the UK MP Sr David Amess, who has died from the wounds in his constituency in Essex.
“Deeply shocked and saddened by the news that British MP Sir David Amess has been murdered while doing his job this afternoon. All our thoughts are with his family and friends” Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Politicians have paid tribute to Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who has died after being stabbed in his constituency in Essex.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was one of the “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the “much-loved” MP was a “bright light of Parliament”.

And Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer hailed his “profound sense of public duty”.

Sir David was stabbed whilst holding a constituency surgery, where voters can meet their local MP and discuss concerns.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. A number of sources claim that the attacker was a Somali Islamist.

Kunduz: EU mourns victims

Brussels 09.10.2021 “People were gathered for Friday prayers in a Shiite mosque in Kunduz, when a cowardly attack struck, killing more than 40 believers and reportedly injuring over 100. The European Union mourns with the families of the victims and wishes those injured a full and speedy recovery” the statement of the European External Actions Service reads.

“The perpetrators of this despicable crime, for which the terrorist group ‘ISIS-Khorasan’ claimed responsibility, must be brought to justice. The human rights of all Afghans, including the right to life and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, have to be protected and respected”.

“Continued terrorist attacks are a serious obstacle to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, where all Afghan citizens can feel safe and secure. The European Union remains committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan and to supporting its people”.

Dozens of people have been killed in a suicide bombing attack at a Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s northeastern city of Kunduz during Friday prayers on October 9, the country’s worst bloodshed since the Taliban took over control in August.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack through the same day via online communicatins.

EU committed to defeat Da’esh

Brussels 28.06.2021 “The EU remains firmly committed to the Global Coalition against Da’esh. The job is not yet finished in Iraq and Syria, where the core of Da’esh is still active, even if gone largely underground. Stabilisation and reconstruction are key to prevent its resurgence. We also see a growing influence of Da’esh in areas already made vulnerable by conflict, including West Africa and Mozambique. The pandemic and its impact on local economies are also creating new opportunities for Da’esh to exploit” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing in Rome the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against Da’esh.

“This is why our collective action remains crucial to ensure sustainable progress” the diplomat continued.

“In Iraq, the EU has invested over €1.3 billion since 2014 in development, humanitarian and security assistance. Since 2017, we support civilian Security Sector Reform through an EU Advisory Mission (EUAM Iraq), with a team of up to 80 international staff. The mission works very closely with the Ministry of the Interior and will soon extend its presence also to Erbil.

“When I met with Foreign Minister [of Iraq, Fuad] Hussein last week, I also announced the deployment of an EU Election Observation Mission for the October elections.

“On Syria, we continue to push for a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We insist on the importance of non-normalisation with Syria in order to maintain pressure on the regime to engage in the UN process. In March, the EU co-chaired the 5th Syria Conference in Brussels to mobilise the international community in support of the Syrian people.

“The EU also supports the stabilisation of the North East with projects to build resilience against radicalisation, prevent violent extremism, and in support of vulnerable children and youth.

[The humanitarian and security conditions in the camps remain difficult. The EU visited the region last week and will launch new stabilisation assistance, including for camps and prisons.]

“Turning to Africa, I warmly welcome the new Coalition members from the African continent who join us for the first time today.

“In Sahel, we have to pay closer attention to the region: in Central Mali we see every day two grave security incidents causing deaths or injuries. This is of concern to all of us. For this reason, the EU is committed to keep up its military and civilian engagement. We have three [Common Security and Defence Policy] CSDP missions in the region, with around 1,000 staff to support host countries in the fight against terrorism. The EU also supports the G5 Sahel Joint Force and stabilisation efforts in support of local populations.

We again welcome a role for the Coalition in the Sahel region. A role that has to be played in close coordination with international efforts in the framework of the Coalition for the Sahel.

Finally, on Mozambique. The humanitarian and security situation in Cabo Delgado is rapidly deteriorating. At the request of the Mozambican government, the EU is finalising the planning for an EU military CSDP mission aimed at providing human-rights compliant training and capacity building to selected units of the Mozambican armed forces.

The EU is further engaged with humanitarian, development and stabilisation assistance adding up to nearly €60 million for projects to build confidence between security forces and local communities.

“Two years after the defeat of Da’esh by Coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, it is clear that there is still much work to do. The EU will continue to do its part, together with the Global Coalition and its partners”.

NATO faces multifaceted threats

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions” reads the Brussels Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021.

“Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy across the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking. China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance”.

“We will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance. We are increasingly confronted by cyber, hybrid, and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and by the malicious use of ever-more sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. Rapid advances in the space domain are affecting our security”.

“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the erosion of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security. Climate change is a threat multiplier that impacts Alliance security. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack, and we will address all threats and challenges which affect Euro-Atlantic security…”

Danish NSA spies on EU leaders

Bruxelles 30.05.2021 Denmark’s secret service helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a European media investigation published on Sunday revealed. (Image: illustration).

The disclosure that the US had been spying on its allies first started coming to light in 2013, but it is only now that journalists have gained access to reports detailing the support given to the NSA by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service (FE).

The report showed that Germany’s close ally and neighbour cooperated with the American spying operations targeting the chancellor and president.

The then chancellor candidate for the German centre-left socialist party (SPD), Peer Steinbrück, was also a target, the new report disclosed.

The Danish government knew of the involvement of the country’s secret service in the NSA scandal by 2015 at the latest.

They began to collect information on the FE’s cooperation with the NSA between 2012 and 2014 in the secret Dunhammer report following the disclosures by the former NSA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden, NDR reported.

The information they gathered made it clear that the FE had helped the NSA to spy on leading politicians in Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and France.

Danish intelligence also helped the US agency to spy on the Danish foreign and finance ministries as well as a Danish weapons manufacturer. The FE also cooperated with the NSA on spying operations against the US government itself.

Upon discovering exactly how far the cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence services went, the Danish government forced the entire leadership of the FE to step down in 2020.

Borrell demands release of Protasevich

Brussels 24.05.2021 Belarus: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk on 23 May 2021:

“On 23 May, the Belarusian authorities, in an inadmissible step, forced a civilian plane to perform an emergency landing in Minsk. The plane, owned by an EU company, flying between two EU capitals and carrying more than 100 passengers, was forced to land by a Belarusian military aircraft.

“One of the flight passengers, Mr Raman Pratasevich, an independent journalist from Belarus, was retained by the Belarusian authorities and prevented from boarding the plane at the Minsk airport to its original destination. This is yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices.

“We call for the immediate release of Mr Pratasevich.

“In carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have jeopardised the safety of passengers and crew. An international investigation into this incident must be carried out to ascertain any breach of international aviation rules.

“This situation will be raised at the upcoming meeting of the European Council. The EU will consider the consequences of this action, including taking measures against those responsible”.

Opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, 26, was traveling by commercial airline from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, when the Belarusian air force landing by a fighter jet MiG29. The flight, on Irish airline Ryanair, was diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the millennial opposition figure was taken into custody.

Protasevich is a co-founder and a former editor of the NEXTA online channel on the social media platform Telegram, which has become a popular communication medium for Lukashenko’s opponents to share information and organise demonstrations against the government.

The journalist fled the Belarus in 2019, fearing arrest, and imprisonment, but he has continued to criticise Lukashenko’s regime while living in exile in Lithuania, so much so that he was charged in absentia with public disorder and social hatred in November last year.

As a teenager, Protasevich became a dissident, first drawing scrutiny from law enforcement. He was expelled from a prestigious school for participating in a protest rally in 2011 and later was expelled from the journalism program of the Minsk State University.

The government’s main security agency in Belarus, called the KGB, placed Protasevich’s name on a list of terrorists. If he is accused and convicted of terrorism, he could face the death penalty.

The charges of inciting public disorder and social hatred carry a punishment of more than 12 years in prison.

Belarus: Borrell demands investigation

Brussels 24.05.2021 Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell called for an international investigation after Belarus forced a Ryanair passenger jet to land in Minsk, in an apparent effort to arrest an activist journalist.
“In carrying out this coercive act, the Belarusian authorities have jeopardised the safety of passengers and crew,” Borrell said in a statement issued on Monday, May 24, the following day after the incident.

“An international investigation into this incident must be carried out to ascertain any breach of international aviation rules,” the statement went on.

The Belarusian Transport Ministry on Monday announced it had set up a commission to carry out its own investigation into the forced landing and would publish the results soon, according to a report by the Russian RIA news agency.

EU to discuss incident at summit
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said EU leaders will discuss the incident at an EU summit beginning on Monday, adding that the affair would not remain “without consequences.”

Michel called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the detained passenger – the 26-year-old journalist Roman Protasevich who worked for Poland-based online news service NEXTA, which broadcast footage of protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) last year during presidential elections mass protests.

An EU spokesman said the leaders would discuss “possible sanctions” on Belarus. High-level officials in the country have already been sanctioned by the bloc over the brutal repression of the opposition, protesters and journalists following disputed elections in August 2020. More than 34,000 people have been arrested in the country since August, and thousands have been brutally mistreated.

Protasevich was traveling by commercial airline RyanAir from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, when the Belarusian air force sent a fighter jet. The flight, on Irish airline Ryanair, was diverted and escorted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where the millennial opposition figure was taken into custody.

Protasevich was returning to Vilnius from an economic conference in Greece with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Greek officials said.

The flight, which had been carrying some 170 passengers, should have taken about three hours. As it approached the border between Belarus and Lithuania, a MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept it.

Lukashenko, who is often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator,” personally ordered the fighter jet MiG29 to escort the Ryanair plane to the Minsk airport after a bomb threat alert, his press service said. According to the statement, Lukashenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, gave an “unequivocal order” to “make the plane do a U-turn and land.”

Kabul: EU condemns girl school attack

Brussels 08.05.2021 “The European Union mourns with those who have lost loved ones in the latest horrendous terrorist attack in Afghanistan. The targeting of civilians, including school children attending the Syed Al-Shahda school for girls in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul, in a bomb attack is a blatant and despicable violation of international humanitarian law”, reads the statement by the EEAS spokesperson on the terrorist attack in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. Those responsible must be held to account, and those that support their actions should feel total shame. The attack is an attack not only on the Afghan population, but on all those worldwide that respect the equal rights of women and girls, and on all those that value education and the right of children to forge their futures”.

“The European Union has consistently called for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, in which a lasting peace can be achieved through an inclusive, negotiated political settlement among Afghans. Our priority remains to support a prosperous, stable and secure Afghanistan, where the human rights of all – including women, children and minorities – are protected and respected”.

An explosion outside a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday left at least 30 dead and 52 injured, including students, as Ramadan draws to a close and foreign forces accelerate their withdrawal, leaving behind a country torn apart by 20 years of conflict.

Taliban versus U.S.troops

Brussels 15.04.2021 International troops plan to stay in Afghanistan beyond the May deadline envisaged by the insurgent Taliban’s deal with the United States, four senior NATO officials said, a move that could escalate tensions with the Taliban demanding full withdrawal.

“There will be no full withdrawal by allies by April-end,” one of the officials told Reuters.

“Conditions have not been met,” he said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “And with the new U.S. administration, there will be tweaks in the policy, the sense of hasty withdrawal which was prevalent will be addressed and we could see a much more calculated exit strategy.”

The administration of then-President Donald Trump signed an agreement with the Taliban early last year calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops by May in return for the insurgents fulfilling certain security guarantees.

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