Aletho News


Scott Ritter: US Complicit in Ukraine’s War on Journalists

By Scott Ritter – Sputnik – 03.04.2023

On Sunday, April 2, 2023, the well-known Russian journalist/blogger, Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, was killed in what appears to have been a targeted assassination.

At the time of his murder, Tatarsky had over 560,000 followers on his Telegram channel, making him one of the most influential voices when it came to covering the ongoing Russian special military operation in Ukraine.

The Russian government has publicly condemned the attack, with Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemning the role played by the West, noting that the harassment of Russian journalists by the West constitutes a veritable “witch hunt” that represents an acquiescence, if not outright complicity, in the murder of persons like Tatarsky and Daria Dugina, the daughter of the noted Russian philosopher, Alexander Dugin, and a journalist in her own right.

“Not a single case of the violent death of a Russian journalist hailed as a ‘success’ by the Kiev regime and its thugs, has been investigated by Western countries, international organizations, or foreign professional communities, and not even basic human sympathy has been shown,” Zakharova noted.

The double standard of the collective West, and in particular the United States, which prides itself for its ostensible support of a free press, has been put on display for all the world to see. In 2012, Marie Colvin, a war correspondent for The Sunday Times, was killed while covering the conflict in Syria.

In February 2019, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the US District Court in Washington, DC, awarded Marie Colvin’s estate damages in the amount of $300 million, claiming that Colvin had been “specifically targeted” by the Syrian government “because of her profession.” Judge Jackson further stated that “The murder of journalists acting in their professional capacity could have a chilling effect on reporting such events worldwide,” adding that “a targeted murder of an American citizen whose courageous work was not only important, but vital to our understanding of war zones and of wars generally, is outrageous.” [Note: The Syrian government denies that Marie Colvin was specifically targeted. She died when a so-called “media center” in a rebel-held town that doubled as a command center was struck by Syrian artillery. Colvin was operating in Syria without the permission of the Syrian government, in an active war zone.]

The murder of Daria Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky clearly represents the deliberate targeting of journalists operating in their professional capacity. Both Dugina and Tatarsky provided reporting that was “vital to our understanding of war zones and war,” and yet, because this “understanding” came with a Russian slant, the US government remains silent.

The “chilling effect” which Judge Amy Jackson warned about is, it seems, to be embraced when those chilled speak Russian, or whose facts sustain a Russian narrative.

The compassion shown Marie Colvin by the US government, in the defense of a free press, is exposed as a lie when confronted by the silence that followed the deaths of Daria Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky. But this was to be expected — after all, the US is seeking the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange so he can be prosecuted for the crime of publishing so-called “secrets” that exposed war crimes and other official malfeasance on the part of the US government and military in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Putting a journalist in jail for 175 years (the maximum sentence Julian Assange would face if found guilty) is the same thing as a death sentence. Free speech, American-style, is not free — it comes with a heavy price, especially if one publishes material that runs against the US-backed official narrative.

Both Daria Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky were included on the notorious “Myrotvorets” “kill list,” purportedly promulgated by the Ukrainian Security Services, along with hundreds of others—many of them minor children—similarly marked for death for the crime of speaking out against the policies of the Ukrainian government.
I, too, am on that list, along with scores of other Americans and non-Ukrainians.

To date, the US government has yet to condemn the Ukrainian government for targeting US citizens to die for exercising their Constitutionally protected right of free speech.
If the US government won’t protect its own citizens, one cannot expect it to speak out in the defense of the lives of non-US citizens designated for speech-related assassination.

But this isn’t simply a case of remaining silent in the face of crimes being committed by others. The US government is an active participant in the Ukrainian government’s campaign to silence dissenting voices using whatever means possible, including targeted assassination. The US government funds, helps organize, and actively supports the work of the Center for Countering Disinformation, or CCD, a Ukrainian agency operating under the auspices of the Office of the President of Ukraine. The CCD publishes a so-called “black list” containing the names of persons designated by the Ukrainian government as facilitating “Russian propaganda,” and designates those whose names appear on this list as “information terrorists” and “war criminals” who must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Just to be clear, the US actively hunts down and kills persons designated as terrorists. To fund and support similar designations of its own citizens by a foreign government — Ukraine — known to arrest, torture, and murder dissenting voices means the US, implicitly, supports marking them for death.

This is the truth behind the US silence in the face of the murders of Russian journalists like Daria Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky. A nation founded on the principles of free speech cannot tolerate free speech when it is practiced by those who oppose the US-backed narrative. Rather than engaging these dissenting voices in fact-based debate, dialogue, and discussion, the US —cognizant of the fact that their side could not prevail in such a contest — opts to silence these voices forever. For Julian Assange, this means life in prison.

For Daria Dugina and Vladlen Tatarsky, this meant death.

This is how you kill a free press. Hopefully the voices of dissent that remain will not be “chilled” by this result, but rather opt to double down on their commitment to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

I know I will.

April 4, 2023 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , ,



    The charges against Julian Assange, explained
    World Apr 11, 2019

    U.S. prosecutors Thursday unsealed conspiracy charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, alleging he worked with former Army intelligence analyst-turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning to hack a government computer and carry out one of the largest leaks of U.S. classified information in history.

    The Department of Justice announcement came just hours after Ecuador’s government revoked Assange’s political asylum. British police then forcibly removed the Australian computer hacker from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange fled in 2012 after Swedish law enforcement pursued him for allegedly raping female WikiLeaks volunteers.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May quickly applauded the arrest in remarks Thursday before Parliament, saying the arrest showed that “no one is above the law.” A judge in London later found Assange guilty of breaching his bail, which could result in a sentence of up to 12 months.

    President Donald Trump also weighed in on the issue Thursday after the Justice Department unsealed its indictment of Assange. When asked by reporters whether he still loved WikiLeaks, as he claimed in October 2016 after the organization published Democrats’ hacked emails, Trump said, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks. It’s not my thing.”

    Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno released a video statement on Assange earlier Thursday morning, indicating the move had been planned for some time. Ecuador’s foreign minister had publicly warned Assange earlier in the week that he could not stay at the London embassy indefinitely.

    Later, Moreno called Assange a “miserable hacker” and a “spoiled brat” who didn’t pick up after himself. Moreno has accused Assange and WikiLeaks of spying on him and spreading false corruption stories to destabilize Ecuador.

    Here’s a look back at WikiLeaks and Assange’s legal battles, and what might come next.
    Why Assange was initially arrested

    The U.S. indictment against Assange stems from WikiLeaks’ publication in 2010 and 2011 of hundreds of thousands of U.S. military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as American diplomatic communications. The material was originally leaked to WikiLeaks by former Army analyst Chelsea Manning.

    The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to hack a computer to disclose classified information that “could be used to injure” the U.S. According to the indictment, Assange “conspired” with Manning by helping her crack a Defense Department computer password in March 2010 that provided access to a U.S. government network that stored classified information and communications.

    Manning had already supplied Assange and WikiLeaks with other classified U.S. information she had access to as an Army analyst. Manning went on to transmit all the material to WikiLeaks, which published the massive trove in a series of posts between 2010 and 2011.

    Manning was convicted by court-martial on violations of the Espionage Act and other charges in 2013. She was later sentenced to 35 years in prison. In January 2017, just days before leaving office, President Barack Obama commuted all but four months of Manning’s remaining sentence. But Manning was jailed for contempt of court last month, after refusing to testify about Assange in the ongoing U.S. grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks.
    WikiLeaks’ role in the 2016 presidential election

    Separate from the Manning leaks, the U.S. government has been investigating WikiLeaks’ role in the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    WikiLeaks published a trove of embarrassing and politically damaging hacked emails from then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff John Podesta and others on July 22, 2016, on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on May 19, 2017. Photo by Peter Nicholls/Reuters

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on May 19, 2017. Photo by Peter Nicholls/Reuters

    U.S. officials have since concluded that Russian military intelligence officers also hacked emails from the Clinton campaign, as well as emails from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The U.S. intelligence community said that the hacks were carried out under the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin and as part of a larger campaign to influence the 2016 election.

    Trump frequently praised WikiLeaks during the election, saying at one rally that “I love reading those WikiLeaks.” At another event he called the hacked emails a “treasure trove” of information.

    Last July, as part of his investigation into Russia election interference, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials with carrying out the Democratic hack as part of Russia’s larger influence campaign. According to the indictment, the officials obtained the emails the intent to “release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity” which is WikiLeaks, which in the indictment is named as “Organization 1.”
    Trump associates’ contacts with WikiLeaks

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Pip | April 4, 2023 | Reply

  2. Congratulations, Scott. Magnificent that you are still battling to uphold the truth against your corrupted government and media, as you bravely did to try to stop the invasion of Iraq and the misinformation that followed.


    Comment by jbthring | April 12, 2023 | Reply

  3. Legislation that restricts communicating the truth to others in other parts of the world over the internet has been introduced. The RESTRICT ACT as it’s called, is intended to silence truth seekers and Journalists. “If we can’t kill em, Restrict em” is the US government’s new motto.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | April 21, 2023 | Reply

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