Tag Archives: freedom of speech

Lavrov: journalist Vyshinky case “absurd”

Russian Minister of Foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov  reiterated Moscow demands of respect of his human rights and immediate liberation of journalist Kirill Vyshinky (pictured) arrested in Ukraine.

The trial in the case of the RIA Novosti Ukraine chief editor resembles the theater of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was arrested illegally, only because he worked for a Russian media outlet and honestly covered current developments. Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand it as they have been postponing hearings, citing the need to study the case files,Lavrov said to Aif newspaper.

Our diplomats maintain contacts with his lawyers as Ukraine failed to provide us with access to the journalist himself. We are doing our best, working with foreign partners, particularly on international platforms, encouraging them to influence Kiev so that a positive solution can be foundLavrov concluded.

Kiev’s Podolsky District Court postponed the hearing of the Vyshinsky case to July 19.

Vyshinsky was arrested in Kiev  by the Ukrainian Security Service  (SBU) on 15 May 2018.  Being under arrest, on On 1 June 2018, he said in court: “I declare my withdrawal from my Ukrainian citizenship — from this moment I consider myself only a citizen of Russia.”

Jagland raises concerns about journalist Golunov case

 

 

 

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has made the following statement with regard to the situation of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in Russia:

I am very much concerned and saddened by reports coming from Moscow alleging that investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was subjected to violence and injured by police forces while in custody in a Moscow police station.

Violence by police during investigation procedures is absolutely prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which the Russian Federation is party.

Moreover, the fact that Mr Golunov claims that evidence against him was manipulated raises even greater suspicion over the current situation.

Taking into account the particular gravity of the alleged facts, I call on the Minister of Interior of the Russian Federation, Mr Kolokoltsev, to personally address this situation.

I also hope that Human Rights Commissioner Moskalkova will look into these allegations.

Freedom of expression and the right to security are fundamental in a democratic society and law enforcement bodies must also defend these values.”

Spokesperson of the European External Action Service also made a statement, underlining that the European Union relevant institutuios follows closely the case of journalist Godunov, arrested in Moscow.

AMENDMENT:

British Forign Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a statement via his Twitter microblog on the arrest of Ivan Golunov. He also mentioned “fear of retribution” among  negative effects on practice of investigative journalism in Russia in general.

AMENDEMNET:

According to Golunov’s lawyer Chikov claims his client suffered from police brutalty, being beaten at his arrival to custody. He added paramedics suspected Golunov had suffered broken ribs, bruising and a concussion, and that “police chiefs” were refusing his hospitalisation

AMENDEMENT

Today the international organisation Reporters without borders (RSF) launched  mobiliseation to manifest in front of Russian Embassy in Paris, demanding liberation of Golunov, and dropping all charges against him.

 

AMENDEMENT

Manning denied release on bail

Former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will remain in prison after a federal appeals court denied her request to be released on bail, and upheld a lower court’s decision to hold Manning in civil contempt for refusing to give evidence before grand jury.

The ruling is a blow to Manning, who was arrested in March after  declining to answer questions in connection with the government’s long-running investigation into Wikileaks and its Australian founder Julian Assange.

In a comment released by a spokesperson, Manning said that while disappointing, the appeals court ruling will still allow to “raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process”.

I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury,” Manning added.

Mogherini to counter disinformation

At January Foreign Affairs Council participants discussed the action plan against disinformation presented earlier (5.12.018).

Ministers exchanged views on the implementation of the action plan, focusing on its external aspects. They underlined the need to build a common and holistic response to the security challenges posed by foreign interference, while respecting national approaches and protecting freedom of expression and of the media.

They highlighted the creation of an EU “Rapid Alert System to share expertise and best practices, and to promote coordinated action, notably through awareness raising campaigns. Ministers stressed the need to engage with civil society to tackle disinformation, including with CSOs, NGOs, business and academia, as well as to work with international partners, in particular NATO and the G7, to address disinformation more efficiently. They also underlined the importance of contributing to strengthening the resilience of neighboring countries.

First of all, our work on disinformation, to counter disinformation coming from outside the European Union. This is a work we are doing together with the different institutions – we have put together an Action Plan that we presented already at the end of last year – and that is now subject to a common work for the implementation that requires a stronger determination and inputs also from our Member States”, the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said, while commenting on Foreign Ministers Council agenda.

We discussed with the Foreign Ministers their side of the work and ways in which we can do better in this respect. Obviously, in particular in view of the European Parliament elections, but there was a very strong focus on the need to look at all different kind of disinformation that come from within, from outside the European Union, and in different forms. We decided to move forward together, at full speed, with a lot of determination, and implement the Action Plan we have put forward” Mogherini added.

“European mandarins will decide for you what is truth. Brrrr”, wrote Belgium politician Theo Frnacken.

Twitter bans InfoWars accounts

Twitter has permanently banned accounts of TV host Alex Jones and InfoWars from the platform, the company said in a statement.

According to the company, Jones accounts violated the company’s rules. The ban comes weeks after Jones was banned or suspended by other major tech companies like Apple, Facebook and YouTube.

“We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations,” the company said in a series of tweets. “We wanted to be open about this action given the broad interest in this case.”

 

EU calls for transparent investigation of Babchenko assassination

“The European Union expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was killed at his home in Kyiv on 29 May”- the External Action Service reacted in a statement of a spokesperson.

“Mr Babchenko was a respected war correspondent, who left his native Russia in 2017 following threats to his life in relation to his journalistic work there. Each time that a voice of freedom is violently silenced, it risks weakening our societies and undermining our democracies. The best way to honour Mr Babchenko‘s memory and his work, and to firmly counter any attempt to endanger our shared fundamental rights is through a swift and transparent investigation that brings those responsible for this crime to justice.”

“The European Union stands in solidarity with journalists and will continue to work to protect them and their work, which is vital to all democracies, within and beyond our borders.”

The assassination evoked a wave of condamnation from behalf of the leading European international institutions as Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland requested full and rapid investigation, pointing at danger the attack on free speech represents to democracy.

The assassination of a dissident Russian journalist, who lived and worked in Ukraine since 2017, took place next to his apartment, where he was shot three times in his back. There Ukrainian police said the hideous act may have been tied to his reporting.

Babchenko, 41, died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, a government official said.

Russian authorities vehemently reject accusations made ahead of the investigation.

AMENDMENT (!) 30/05/3028 17:45

“The reported killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko on Tuesday in Kiev was actually a ruse played by the Ukrainian law enforcement to prevent a planned hit, the Ukrainian authorities said.

Reporting on the high profile case on Wednesday, the head of the SBU, Ukraine’s national security service, Sergey Gritsak said Babchenko was alive and unhurt”.

Madrid opposes Puigdemont free speech in Denmark

The Spanish Prosecutor’s Office has asked the Supreme Court to issue another European arrest warrant against the President of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont, in case he travels to Denmark for a conference on January 22.

The Catalan President’s lawyer has stated that there is a “fairly high” risk for President to be arrested during his trip to Denmark, should the Spanish Supreme Court’s judge re-issue the European arrest warrant, in case Puigdemont decided to leave from his exile in Belgium.

Although Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas acknowledged that “there are political, diplomatic, judicial, and police movements at a Spanish level,” he highlighted that they “were not entirely clear.” He believes that the warrant could be issued in time for the visit, but he also said that it is possible Denmark might reject the warrant, even though the crime of rebellion is included in its criminal code.

Denmark is well-known for its profound attachment to democratic values put to ordeal in case of Mohammed cartoon scandal. According to various political experts the risks of being deported to Madrid from Copenhagen are minimal, however it is clear that President Puigdemont can not afford any in view of Spanish hostility towards Catalan politicians.

The Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena has ruled the vice-President of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, must remain physically in prison without permission to attend sessions of the new Catalan Parliament. The decision also applies to two other politicians Joaquim Forn, and Jordi Sánchez, both re-elected on December 21, 2017.

 

 

Baku’ assaults regime critics

The courts of Azerbaijan condemned at least 25 journalists and political activists to long prison terms in politically motivated, unfair trials in 2017, Human Rights Watch concluded in its World Report 2018.
Azerbaijan laws and regulations for nongovernmental organizations created a frame, making impossible for independent groups to fund and carry out their work. Harassment, torture and ill-treatment in custody in total impunity is common, and legal changes reduced the number of lawyers accepting politically sensitive cases.
President Ilham Aliyev (pictured) clearly draws a red line for freedom of speech, and fundamental rights, sending a clear message that anyone who crosses it is charged as a criminal. The situation with fundamental rights in Azerbaijan has been in down spiral for years, while criticism of the regime and especially the Aliyevs family, is a taboo, blocking democratic developments in oil rich Caucasus country.
“Azerbaijan does have a de facto royal family. They pretend the Aliyevs are democratically elected” – writes the son of the assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Matthew.

EU urges Baku to respect freedom of speech

“The six-year sentence handed down to Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Azerbaijan by a court in Balakan on 12 January poses serious questions as regards the exercise of fundamental rights including the freedom of expression and media and due process of law in Azerbaijan, ” –  says the statement by the spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS) on the sentencing of the journalist.

“The alleged abduction of Mr Mukhtarli in Georgia followed by his arrest and prosecution in Azerbaijan continues to demand thorough and transparent investigation.”

“All cases of incarceration related to the exercise of fundamental rights should be reviewed urgently by Azerbaijan, followed by the release all of those concerned, in line with Azerbaijan’s international commitments.”

The OSCE has condemned the jailing of Azerbaijan journalist, and expressed hope the verdict to be overturned on appeal.

The US State Department issued a statement, being “disturbed” by sentencing of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli,  and urged Azerbaijan to release him:

A day after the journalist went missing in сaptial city of neighbouring Georgia, Tbilisi, in May 2017, Azerbaijani authorities declared him in custody in Baku on suspicion of smuggling and crossing the border illegally.

Muxtarli’s lawyers, Elcin Sadiqov and Nemat Karimli, told the court that their client was “abducted” in Georgia and illegally brought into Azerbaijan.

Defending  Mr Mukhtarli  both  lawyers insist the case is politically motivated and requested to drop all charges.

Twitter VIP and other political clients

Twitter Inc management confirmed that accounts belonging to world leaders have special status on the microblog network, frustrating users who have called on the company to banish U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter said in a post on a corporate blog.

Twitter’ management has declared previously that “newsworthiness” and whether a tweet is “of public interest” are among the factors it considers before removing an account or a tweet.

The public concerns about legal framework of powers of social media are at rise, amid closure or a number of prominent political players: the beginning of this year Greek party Golden Dawn, the third group in the parliament discovered their microblog was shut down. In Germany Twitter blocked for 12 hours the account of Beatrix von Storch, the deputy parliamentary leader for the  Alternative for Germany party.

The sequence of events started when Cologne police tweeted a New Year’s greeting in Arabic, along with English and French, von Storch reacted on Twitter: “What the hell is happening in this country? Why is an official police site tweeting in Arabic? Do you think it is to appease the barbaric, gang-raping hordes of Muslim men?”. She clearly referred to the dramatic events in Cologne when hundreds of German women were trapped as victims of sexual assaults by migrants during New Year celebration at central square of town.

However, Beatrix von Storch Twitter microblog was blocked/suspended, the Facebook page with the similar message reacted by deleting her post: “Facebook has now also censored me. This is the end of the rule of law.” – the deputy leader of AfD wrote.

Both Twitter and Facebook as well as YouTube campaigned against the new law called the Network Enforcement Act, which gives social media firms 24 hours to remove content considered sedition, threat, insult or slander. Civil rights groups have raised concern about the damages to free speech.

 

 

 

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