In a world of sullied by state corruption and abuse of power one has to use the ABC principle in order to get to the truth.
The first part of this article deals with the very public raids Russian secret service teams have made on the homes of their citizens, and in particular investigative journalists.
The second half of the article looks at both the historic and current abuses of privacy being conducted by the British government on its citizens, namely GCHQ.
MOSCOW (AP) – Russian authorities have raided the homes of several investigative journalists and their family members.
The raids have come amid mounting state pressure on all of Russia’s independent media outlets.
Police searched the apartments of Roman Badanin, chief editor of the Proekt investigative online outlet and one of their leading journalists, Maria Zholobova.
Officers also raided the home of the parents of Badanin’s deputy, Mikhail Rubin. Rubin was detained near Zholobova’s residential building and then brought to his parents’ apartment.
All three journalists were taken in for questioning after the raids and later let go.
According to a civil rights group involved in his defence Badanin was initially reported as being a suspect in the case.
However, when questioned it was as a witness and not a suspect.
In a statement made on their Telegram account, Proekt said that the raids happened after they had promised to release an investigation into Russia’s interior minister, Vladimir Kolokoltsev and his alleged wealth.
The outlet published the story shortly after the searches started.
After the questioning Badanin told reporters that the Proekt team believes the “attention” from law enforcement agencies is connected to their investigation into Kolokoltsev.
In an online statement Proekt said:
“We consider these actions an attempt at censorship and at pressuring our colleagues, and demand a cease in investigative proceedings against the journalists of Proekt.”
Earlier this year Russian authorities also raided the apartment of a prominent investigative journalist, Roman Anin, and arrested four editors of an opposition-leaning student magazine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has rejected the idea that raids targeting investigative journalists could be viewed as retribution for their work, saying that “legal grounds for such actions exist.”
However Peskov admitted that the Kremlin doesn’t know why police searched the apartments of the Proekt journalists.
In a statement Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, Natalia Zviagina, said:
“Another brazen attack on independent media and freedom of expression in Russia, and part of a systematic cleansing of any critical voices exposing the malpractices of those in power in the country.
We demand an immediate termination of all criminal libel proceedings against journalists and an end to the state harassment of independent Russian media.”
Britain Invades….. The Peoples Privacy.
Meanwhile back in jolly old England evidence of unlawful spying activities came to light after documents, which were released by Edward Snowden, revealed that a GCHQ information security assessment had listed “investigative journalists” as a national security threat alongside terrorists and hackers.
Since the release of those documents senior editors and lawyers in the UK have called for the urgent introduction of a freedom of expression law amid an ever growing concern over the police’s use of surveillance powers which are linked to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).
The government’s cyber-security centre, GCHQ have also used these security assessments to list investigative journalists between terrorists (third) and hackers (1st) as the most serious threats to the countrys’ national security.
In a they would say that statement a spokesman for GCHQ said:
“It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.
Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee.
All our operational processes rigorously support this position.
In addition, the UK’s interception regime is entirely compatible with the European convention on human rights.”
RiP would like to point out (and remind the GCHQ spokesman) that ever since its introduction into UK law RIPA has been used to access journalists’ communications without a warrant!
And that Mr GCHQ spokesman is illegal under the European Convention of Human rights.
Britain’s grim RIPA act
Under RIPA, neither the police nor the security services need to seek a warrant from a judge in order to investigate a UK citizen’s phone records – instead they must obtain permission from an appointed member of staff from the same organisation, not involved in their investigation.
Internal security advice (which is shared among all the UK intelligence agencies) is very often more preoccupied with the activities of journalists than it is with more conventional threats such as foreign intelligence, hackers or criminals.
In another restricted document (intended for only those in the 77th brigade and all army intelligence divisions) it warned:
“Journalists and reporters representing all types of news media represent a potential threat to national security.
Of specific concern are ‘investigative journalists’ who specialise in defence-related exposés either for profit or what they deem to be of the public interest.
All classes of journalists and reporters may try either a formal approach or an informal approach, possibly with off-duty personnel, in their attempts to gain official information to which they are not entitled.
Such approaches pose a real threat and must be immediately reported to the chain-of-command.”
Back in 2015 a Parliamentary committee said that the legal framework surrounding surveillance in the UK is “unnecessarily complicated” and “lacks transparency”.
In their report the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) also stated that a single law should be introduced to govern access to private communications by UK agencies.
The ISC inquiry began ion 2013 after leaks about surveillance by US and UK intelligence agencies were reported in the press.
Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor, who now lives in Russia after fleeing the US, had given the media details of extensive internet and phone surveillance being conducted by British and American intelligence agencies. (See – Operation Tempora below)
In its inquiry the ISC considered the impact of the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) report and what the deliberate abuse of GCHQ’s interception and communications data systems was having on people’s right to privacy.
However, in its findings the report stated:
“The UK’s intelligence and security agencies do not seek to circumvent the law and their activities do not equate to blanket surveillance” or indiscriminate surveillance”.
Following publication of the IOCCO report, Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights campaign group Liberty, said:
“The ISC is a simple mouthpiece for the spooks. They are so clueless and ineffective that it’s only thanks to Edward Snowden that it had the slightest clue of the agencies’ antics”.
At the time Conservative MP David Davis said the Intelligence and Security Committee had been “captured by the agencies they are supposed to be overseeing”.
Davis also accused ex-chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind as acting as a “spokesman” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ rather than a watchdog.
Sir Malcolm said the criticisms were “ludicrous” and had no basis in fact and went further to say that Mr Davis had been “captured” by the civil liberties lobby.
In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Yesterday in Parliament, Mr Davis said members of the security services had told him privately that they “have never taken the ISC seriously, saying ‘well they only know what we tell them'”.
He also said that security committees around the world were prone to fall into the same trap as the ISC.
“What sort of people join an Intelligence and Security Committee? They approve of what the agencies are trying to do, as do most of us.
But they are excited by it and they get taken in. It is a very glamorous world and they feel privileged to be inside it so there is a tendency to capture.”
In 2013 the Guardian revealed how GCHQ was tapping the fibre-optic cables that carry global communications and then sharing the vast amounts of gathered data with their US counterpart, the NSA.
The paper revealed they had obtained classified documents from Mr Edward Snowden which proved beyond doubt that a top secret GCHQ/NSA operation, codenamed Tempora, had been running for 18 months.
The document detailed how Britain’s spy agency GCHQ had secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and had started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it was sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).
The sheer scale of the agency’s ambition was reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation. Both were aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible.
This was and still is being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.
This included recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user’s access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.
Snowden said of the program.
“This is largest programme of suspicion-less surveillance in human history.
It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight. They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”
If anyone needs a lesson in fascism then look no further. In terms of spying on their own citizens the British are right up there with the Russian, Chinese and American governments. Or should I say the dark states divisions of those governments.
If Edward Snowden is to be believed (which many people tend to think he is) then the UK is still way ahead of all of them.
May RiP take this opportunity to thank you all for reading this article. Please share it with those you feel may be interested.
We leave you now with Revolution by the Beatles. Seems appropriate…..
Special thanks to: