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Threat to Arrest Russian Journalists Signals Growing Political Persecution in West

© AP Photo / Andrew HarnikEmma Rousseau of Oakland, N.J., her mouth bound with a red, white and blue netting, attends a rally on the Fourth of July to protest for abortion rights, at Lafayette Park in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022
Emma Rousseau of Oakland, N.J., her mouth bound with a red, white and blue netting, attends a rally on the Fourth of July to protest for abortion rights, at Lafayette Park in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 4, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.06.2024
Western governments are increasingly turning towards overt methods of repression as they lose their grip on control of the masses.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) has been forced to disavow comments by a legal director with the organization calling for the arrest of Russian journalists after intense backlash.
Anna Neistat, who leads the foundation’s The Docket project, claimed Thursday that her team is urging international authorities to prosecute Russian reporters.
“We want them to travel to other countries and be arrested there,” said Neistat, revealing that she is pressuring the European Union and International Criminal Court to pursue the matter. Neistat made the comments during an interview with the US state-backed propaganda outlet Voice of America.
The organization has since backpedaled on the provocative claim with a statement asserting that “someone in our foundation misspoke,” but observers see the proposal as yet another sign of the West’s growing authoritarianism and intolerance of dissenting voices.
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Author and political analyst Caleb Maupin joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Monday to discuss the incident.
“There's a lot of things to keep in mind in reaction to this news story,” said the author and reporter. “The first of which is that the European Union has basically already outlawed all Russian media within the EU space, right? You can't watch RT. Websites are suppressed, blocked, and it's pretty hard to look at Russian media in the EU.”
“RT France has been shut down. You can't watch RT in Belgium, you can't watch RT in EU countries,” he continued. “What is a little bit different, though, about this is that this was specifically aimed at journalists who would report in Russian, for Russian audiences, but would do so from EU countries. And the idea was that they would be charged, and what's interesting also is that the warrants for their arrest would be secret.”
“They would be arrested upon arrival and it would be a way to basically just kidnap these reporters and journalists and hold them hostage. And, if you look at it, it's a particularly nasty proposal. And that's probably why I noticed that George Clooney is now backing away from it and saying, ‘oh, people from our foundation misspoke, we didn't mean this,’ etcetera.”
European countries have made increasingly aggressive attempts in recent years to restrict media and control the flow of information across the continent. The EU has outright banned Russian media outlets from broadcasting within the 27-nation bloc, but measures have been taken against third-party platforms, as well. The video sharing website Rumble was forced to block French users from accessing the platform after refusing to comply with government demands to block Russian content.
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Politicians in the UK have also explored blocking the website, and the country recently detained journalist Kit Klarenberg at an airport in London, questioning him for five hours about his political views.
Across the Atlantic, the United States has famously condemned journalist Julian Assange to 12 years of effective confinement after the Wikileaks founder published leaked material revealing US war crimes in Iraq. Former CIA director and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made plans to kidnap and murder the firebrand transparency activist, it was recently revealed.
The uproar over the CFJ’s comments comes as Sputnik contributor Scott Ritter was denied travel to speak at a conference in Russia Monday, having his passport confiscated by authorities on apparent orders from the US State Department. Free speech concerns have also been raised over police crackdowns on campus pro-Palestine encampments, a move demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I will say, though, that the Ukrainians have been saying this from the beginning,” said Maupin of the calls to arrest Russian journalists. “I mean, they have this list of ‘information terrorists’ – which I'm proudly on, by the way, I'm listed by the Ukrainian government as an ‘information terrorist’ – and they have been calling for the assassination and murder of journalists, and they've done it since the war has begun.”
“This is not a change for Ukraine. What's changed here is that the Clooney Foundation made such a statement and wanted to enlist EU governments in carrying it out.”
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Western governments are usually more subtle in their attempts to control information, noted Maupin, typically relying more on efforts to influence popular narratives rather than outright censorship. The move towards more overt repression may be seen as a response to the increased transparency allowed by the Internet, or perhaps another sign of the West’s loss of power as a multipolar world order comes into view.
“They like subtly bringing up points they like,” Maupin noted. “Finding people who say things that they agree with and boosting them rather than saying it themselves. This is how the intelligence world works, and a huge amount of what the American intelligence apparatus does is construct media narratives and insert ideas into media discourse.”
“A lot of what the intelligence apparatus does is just boost certain messages and try to control the conversation in a subtle way to advance US foreign policy goals.”
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