UPDATE 07. December 2019: All charges dropped - see underneath.

‘This charge is 100% false’: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence

Orwellian USA is no longer ruled by any rational form of justice or just law.

The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the DC embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution.

By Ben Norton - 28.  Lee este artículo en español aquí.

Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of October 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC that took place between April and May.

A team of DC police officers appeared at Blumenthal’s door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to DC central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by DC police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

“This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

The arrest warrant was five months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal’s arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” Blumenthal stated. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”

Background to the embassy siege

In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, in violation of international law.

A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the US-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.

WATCH: Escualidos attack and choke a supporter of the Embassy Protection Collective trying to deliver food. The Secret Service REFUSED to arrest the assailant pic.twitter.com/xVzHd2i4Hk

— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) May 8, 2019

‘This ginned up claim… is simply false’

Court documents indicate the false charge of simple assault stems from Blumenthal’s participation in a delivery of food and sanitary supplies to peace activists and journalists inside the Venezuelan embassy on May 8, 2019.

The charge was manufactured by a Venezuelan opposition member who was among those laying siege to the embassy in a sustained bid to starve out the activists inside.

“I was not party to any violent actions around the Venezuelan embassy,” Blumenthal reiterated. “This ginned up claim of simple assault is simply false.”

According to court documents, Ben Rubinstein, the brother of journalist Alex Rubinstein, also participated in the non-violent and legal food delivery. Rubinstein was arrested over 12 hours later after the food delivery by Secret Service police officers.

He spent 20 hours in jail, alongside Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace, who was arrested after being brutalized by Secret Service officers for attempting to toss a cucumber inside an embassy window.

“The opposition members made up these lies about Max and I know they’re lying, and they are obviously using the government and police as tools to get revenge,” Ben Rubinstein told The Grayzone.

Retaliation for The Grayzone’s reporting on the violent Venezuelan opposition

Max Blumenthal reported extensively from outside the Venezuelan embassy in May. He filed a story explaining how “the pro-coup mob outside turned violent, physically assaulting embassy protectors, and hurling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse at others.”

Blumenthal documented an opposition activist breaking into and subsequently vandalizing the embassy, in violation of international law. He also reported on opposition members destroying the embassy’s security cameras, while the authorities stood idly by.

To the left of the fascist is “Mohamed,” the right-wing vigilante who broke into the embassy two days ago and ransacked an entire room: https://t.co/eIEjlKj4M7@DCPoliceDept has taken no action beyond aiding and abetting this squalid mob https://t.co/RIQy5bkHZ2

— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) May 3, 2019

The Venezuelan coup regime’s supposed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, who is not recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community, helped to lead this aggressive mob as it besieged the embassy.

The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil exposed Vecchio to be a former lawyer for the oil corporation Exxon. The Grayzone has documented his close links to the US government, and has reported at length on accusations of corruption. Vecchio was a regular presence outside the DC embassy, appearing with his gaggle to stage manage the situation.

The Grayzone has also published numerous exposés on Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, who was selected by the US government to be the so-called “interim president” in Caracas, detailing his extensive ties to Washington and his notorious corruption.

Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó’s team as they lobbied the US government.

“I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration,” Blumenthal stated.

If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro’s authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.

(*) Author:

is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

 

Mainstream Journalists Who Refuse To Defend Dissident Journalists Are Worshippers Of Power

 

By  - 31. OCTOBER 2019

Alternative media circles have been buzzing for the last two days ever since news broke about the arrest of Grayzone journalist Max Blumenthal, who was reportedly jailed for two days after a SWAT-style police team showed up threatening to break his door down last Friday.

Blumenthal is charged with simple assault alleged to have taken place five months ago during the notorious standoff when the US government was working to remove the official Venezuelan government from its DC embassy and replace it with diplomats from the Guaido-led puppet government it was attempting to force into power. Dissident journalists, including Blumenthal, stationed themselves in the embassy in opposition to the illegal eviction and to document the behavior of the evictors. Blumenthal calls the assault charge “a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie.”

watched the news of the embassy standoff with much interest, largely because the obnoxious, oafish behavior of the anti-Maduro counter-protesters on the scene were a perfect reflection of the obnoxious, oafish behavior I’d experienced from anti-Maduro accounts online. I’ve argued with every major political faction in America at one point or another, and some of them can be downright vile,  but I’ve never run into such an intellectually dishonest, crude, nasty group of people in my three years on this job as those who’ve been cheering on the Trump administration’s regime change agenda in Venezuela. There’s not a doubt in my mind that someone from this unscrupulous, shady group would be capable of making false allegations against a dissident journalist who disagreed with them.

“According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal’s arrest was initially rejected,” Grayzone reports. “Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant’s knowledge.”

Strangely indeed.

Max Blumenthal@MaxBlumenthal

 

I was arrested on Friday on a COMPLETELY FALSE charge manufactured by the Venezuelan opposition related to their siege of the embassy in DC. I spent 2 days in jail, was shackled for extended periods & was denied my right to call a lawyer. Here's the facts: https://thegrayzone.com/2019/10/28/this-charge-is-one-hundred-percent-false-grayzone-editor-max-blumenthal-arrested-months-after-reporting-on-venezuelan-opposition-violence/ …

‘This charge is 100% false’: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on...

The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the DC embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider...

thegrayzone.com

7,161

Strange as it is, alternative media figures are the only people talking about an opposition journalist being arrested on highly suspicious grounds in a highly suspicious way. Mainstream media reporters have been completely ignoring this story.

“Arrest and caging of opposition US journalist Max Blumenthal reminds me (and others I know) of the worst of Russia,” tweeted journalist Mark Ames. “Except there, when oppo journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested, most big-name Russian journalists—including Putin-friendly—publicly supported Golunov. Here—silence.”

This silence is unsurprising at this point, because this same media class has for years been either mute or vocally favorable on the persecution of another dissident journalist, Julian Assange. Ambitious young journalists are made well aware that the very easiest way to demonstrate your loyalty to the media-owning plutocratic establishment is to participate in the relentless smear campaign against the WikiLeaks founder which has worked its way into virtually all political sectors of the western world, and the very easiest way to lose standing within the plutocratic media is to defend him.

There’s a popular quote that a German pastor wrote after the second World War that goes,
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.”

It’s a good quote, and, understandably, people have been invoking it for the steadily escalating war on oppositional journalism we’ve been witnessing throughout the western empire. Cries of “First they came for Assange” and “First they came for the journalists” are common in circles which value the existence of a free press which is capable of holding power to account, the argument being that if you let them come for journalists like Assange and Blumenthal, it’s only a matter of time before they come for you, too.

Only one problem: it isn’t true.

Mark Ames@MarkAmesExiled

 

Arrest & caging of opposition US journalist @MaxBlumenthal reminds me (and others I know) of the worst of Russia. Except there, when oppo journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested, most big-name Russian journalists—including Putin-friendly—publicly supported Golunov.
Here—silence.

912

It isn’t true that if you allow authority to come after dissident journalists they’ll necessarily end up coming after you. That’s only true if you intend at some point to publish something that those in power don’t want you to publish. If you’ve closed the door to the possibility of your ever doing that, then you know that there is no risk to you, so there’s no need to defend dissident journalists when their reporting sees them targeted for legal persecution by the powerful. Which is exactly what mainstream reporters who fail to defend Assange and Blumenthal are telling us about themselves: they’ve closed that door and chosen the side of power, come what may.

This is where the silence comes from. It isn’t that those who work in mainstream news media lack an understanding that at some point power structures may shift and you’ll want to report facts that are inconvenient for the powerful without fear of imprisonment; these people all watched Donald Trump get elected. They already know that things can take a very dark turn in the future for where power is located, and they’ve already decided they don’t care and will always side with the powerful going forward. If the election of Donald Trump wasn’t enough to show these people that it’s a good idea to make sure the press can continue to hold power to account in the future, then nothing will. They’re not ignorant, they’re subservient. They’ve made a lifelong commitment to continue to worship at the altar of power, no matter what form that power takes.

If we were to re-write the “First they came” poem to describe the current war on dissident journalism we’re seeing in 2019, it would go more like this:

First they came for Assange, and I did not speak out,
Because I was a mainstream western journalist with no intention of ever upsetting the powerful.

Then they came for Blumenthal, and I did not speak out,
Because I was a mainstream western journalist with no intention of ever upsetting the powerful.

Then they came for all the other dissident journalists, and I did not speak out,
Because I will never be a dissident journalist.

They never came for me,
Because I have chosen to serve power.

 

ARREST OF GOV’T CRITIC AND JOURNALIST MAX BLUMENTHAL SIGNALS ESCALATION IN WAR ON ALTERNATIVE MEDIA

By MINT PRESS - 01. November 2019

Max Blumenthal Arrest Feature photo

Max Blumenthal, the editor of independent media outlet The Grayzone, was secretly arrested on October 25 in a “SWAT-style” morning raid on his Washington D.C. home. He was held in D.C. Central Detention Facility for two days incommunicado, without the ability to communicate to the outside world, having been refused a phone call. He claims to have been shackled by his hands and ankles for some time and kept in a series of cages and cells. Blumenthal was arrested on a five-month-old assault charge stemming from an incident that took place during the D.C. Venezuelan Embassy siege.

A Venezuelan opposition supporter, Naylet Pacheco, claims that Blumenthal kicked her in the stomach several times during a conflict between the embassy protectors and supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaído, who proclaimed himself President of Venezuela in January. At the time of the incident, The Grayzone was publishing a series of investigative reports and newsupdates that contradicted the Trump administration’s narrative, noting how much of the supposedly grassroots uprising, was, in fact, funded by Washington and exposing the corruption and violent tactics of opposition members. The warrant for the charge had initially been rejected. It was, however, revived later without Blumenthal’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arrangement. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” he said. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”

A WAR ON DISSENT

When asked for comment, political comedian and TV show host Lee Camp told MintPress Newsthat this was the latest example of the government trying to silence dissenting opinion and controlling the media:

“This is the continued descent into a fascist state. When the US government is arresting journalists in dramatic fashion clearly because their reporting is threatening to the power elite, then what else can one call it?”

Corporate media largely applauded U.S.-backed regime change efforts in Venezuela, refusing to even call them a “coup” and instead preferring to frame them as a people’s “uprising,” taking the same line as the Trump administration that they claim to “resist.” Many of those same media outlets have also begun to partner with the government in a stated effort to fight fake news. The primary consequence of which has been to undermine and reduce the reach of alternative media, a vital counterweight to the corporate message. In response to a call to arms in the Washington Post, algorithm changes to Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, and others have led to independent news sites being de-ranked, disincentivized, and sometimes, deleted.

Despite his ordeal, Blumenthal has still been treated better than others who ran afoul of the U.S. government. Chelsea Manning is still held in prison, Edward Snowden is in exile, while Julian Assange, whose condition in solitary confinement is deteriorating, faces a highly uncertain future. On Assange, mainstream media largely applauded his April arrest, describing it as a “long overdue” (Washington Postand “satisfying” (Saturday Night Live) detention of an “anti-American” (National Review) “narcissistic” (Washington Post) “Internet Troll” with an “outsized view of his own importance” (the Times) leaving his “voluntary confinement” (the Daily Beast) to finally “face justice” (Daily Mail) for his “indisputable crime” (New York Times).

THE EMBASSY SIEGE

The Trump administration refused to recognize the results of the January 2019 elections that awarded Nicolás Maduro another term in office. Instead, it announced its support for self-appointed President Juan Guaído as the rightful head of Venezuela. This, despite the fact that Guaído has never stood for the office and that over 80 percent of the country didn’t even know who he was. Following Guaído’s self-declaration of his presidency, the Trump administration demanded that all Venezuelan diplomats leave the United States, so those in Venezuela’s Washington D.C. embassy formally invited peace activists to enter and protect the integrity of the building.

Just as Guaído attempted to take the presidential palace in a coup attempt in April, supporters of the far-right anti-President tried to storm the Venezuelan embassy in D.C., an event closely covered by The Grayzone, and by MintPress News’ Alex Rubenstein, who was amongst those invited to protect the building. Rubenstein detailed how the attackers attempted siege and intimidation tactics to the embassy protectors out and enjoyed the tacit support of the local security services, who refused to protect the embassy’s territorial integrity, a serious diplomatic violation.

RADIO SILENCE FROM CORPORATE MEDIA

The dramatic story of a SWAT team bursting into a dissident journalist’s home, bundling him into a car and holding him incommunicado for days appears not to have interested either corporate media or professional press freedom groups like Reporters Without Borders or the Committee to Protect Journalists. When pushed for comment, the US Press Freedom Tracker excluded this case on a technicality, stating:

We are aware of Blumenthal's arrest and based on the information available it does not meet the threshold for categorization on our site because he was not in the course of reporting when it happened.

— U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (@uspresstracker) October 31, 2019

 

There has been exactly zero mainstream coverage or commentary of the government’s arrest of a prominent critic, meaning that for those relying on corporate media to inform and shape their worldview, the event did not happen. This is all the more remarkable considering Blumenthal is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, comes from a well-connected family of elite former White House insiders (his father was a senior aide to President Clinton), and boasts a huge following on social media.

The silence from the mainstream press contrasts the considerable attention that the event has received in alternative media and the outpouring of support from independent journalists. His colleagues at The Grayzone immediately came to his defense; Aaron Maté stated:

.@MaxBlumenthal was just arrested on a ridiculous charge stemming from delivering food to besieged activists in Venezuela's DC embassy *FIVE* months ago. Max has done incredible work exposing US-backed coup in Venezuela & this is a bid to intimidate him. https://t.co/1YdK3SyiTl

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) October 28, 2019

Meanwhile, Anya Parmpil (another embassy protector) noted that she was assaulted in broad daylight by Guaído supporters and in front of the secret services, who did nothing to protect her.

Meanwhile right-wing Venezuelans grabbed my body, pulled my hair, & threw water on me when I tried to question their leader @carlosvecchio

Cops looked on as putschists attacked me in broad daylight. No one involved was ever charged w assault 🤔https://t.co/wuMkJ8tvML

— Anya Parampil (@anyaparampil) October 29, 2019

Many saw the action as part of a wider government campaign aimed at silencing dissenting opinions. “The establishment has declared war on anti-imperialist journalists,” declared Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief of The Canary, “There should be global outrage.” Middle East specialist Jonathan Cook agreed, claiming it was “the latest example of the growing crackdown on independent journalism.” Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah offered his support to Blumenthal,decrying the U.S. government’s “clear retaliation and intimidation” tactics.

The shocking raid and arrest of @MaxBlumenthal on a false charge is clear retaliation and intimidation for the essential and truthful reporting he and @GrayzoneProject are doing. Full solidarity. https://t.co/eaj58a8BMU

— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) October 28, 2019

Others criticized the mainstream press’ reaction to the arrest of a prominent critic of the U.S. government. Mark Ames, the founder of the Moscow-based outlet the eXile, noted thatBlumenthal’s treatment reminded him of “the worst of Russia”, except for the fact when opposition journalists like Ivan Golunov were arrested, even the Putin-friendly press decried it. Meanwhile, journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin offered a thought experiment, tweeting:

Max was arrested on a total fabrication concocted by the Venezuelan opposition to punish him for exposing them. Cops continue to do the bidding of rightwing provocateurs––If this happened in Venezuela to a critical journalist, they would be crying about Maduro's authoritarianism. https://t.co/cWFqNW4UA4

— Abby Martin (@AbbyMartin) October 29, 2019

In fact, a similar event did happen in Venezuela; earlier this year freelance American journalist Cody Weddle was detained and deported by Venezuelan authorities. The incident made worldwide headlines, for example, in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Reutersand the Guardian, and drew immediate condemnation from Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists, highlighting the selective outrage of the corporate press and the human rights industry.

A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

Blumenthal is uncompromising in his position regarding the accusation: “This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” he declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

Far from the wholesome image they enjoy in much of the press, the Venezuelan opposition has a long and exceptionally violent history of attacking political opponents, including journalists. Their many campaigns to oust President Maduro from power have included beheading innocent passers-by and roasting Afro-Venezuelans alive in the street in an attempt to terrorize the population into surrender.

After reporting on this violence in 2017, journalists Abby Martin and Mike Prysner were the subjectof a viral fake news campaign that claimed they were informants gathering information on the opposition for the secret police. They received dozens of death threats as part of a campaign in Venezuela to find and lynch them. The two escaped unharmed but others were not so lucky. TeleSur’s Adriana Sivori was shot in the back by the same opposition movement while wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet marked “press.” Meanwhile, journalists for the Globovisión network were covered with gasoline by far-right protestors who attempted to set them on fire. This “warm welcome” is extended to those in the press who the U.S.-backed opposition feel will not present them as positively as corporate media does.

These incidents were not mentioned, let alone condemned, by human rights or press freedom groups, indicating, as does the Blumenthal arrest, that some consider the right to free speech as dependent on who is doing the talking and what they are saying.

Filmmaker Dan Cohen described Blumenthal’s treatment as a “blatant attempt to stifle and suppress” The Grayzone’s reporting on the U.S.’ attempts to overthrow the Venezuelan government, adding, “Everyone who cares about press freedom in the US should speak out against this.”

Judging by their silence, very few in the mainstream media do.

Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress contributor as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

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Police State Escalates War on Freedom of Speech

By  - 02. November 2019

According to the MAGA nationalists, the “deep state” only persecutes “conservatives” while liberals get a free pass. 

The Gestapo-style raid of liberal journalist Max Blumenthal earlier this week demonstrates quite vividly that the state does indeed attack leftist or left-leaning activists and journalists, not only MAGA supporters and “New Right” nationalists. 

Max Blumenthal@MaxBlumenthal

 

I was arrested on Friday on a COMPLETELY FALSE charge manufactured by the Venezuelan opposition related to their siege of the embassy in DC. I spent 2 days in jail, was shackled for extended periods & was denied my right to call a lawyer. Here's the facts: https://thegrayzone.com/2019/10/28/this-charge-is-one-hundred-percent-false-grayzone-editor-max-blumenthal-arrested-months-after-reporting-on-venezuelan-opposition-violence/ …

‘This charge is 100% false’: Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal arrested months after reporting on...

The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the DC embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider...

thegrayzone.com

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MAGA has deluded itself into the false belief the deep state is primarily comprised of Democrats on the warpath against “conservative” Republicans and New Right types. In fact, the state is apolitical in regard to national partisan politics. It favors Democrats and Republicans only if they tote the neoliberal and corporate line. If they deviate, they may suffer the fate recently experienced y Max Blumenthal. For now, this fate is reserved for those with high visibility such as Blumenthal. 

For really serious violations of the neoliberal code and the establishment’s prearranged political construct, the state prefers torture and slow death. It is currently doing this to Julian Assange. For the national security state, it is a cardinal sin and high crime to expose the dirty and murderous secrets of the state. 

Assange will not be killed outright like the journalists Michael Hastings and Gary Webb. Both Hastings and Webb exposed the crimes of the national security state and paid for it with their lives. Assange, on the other hand, will be slowly and sadistically tortured to death, thus revealing how the state responds when “national security secrets” are exposed and disseminated to millions of people. 

Alan MacLeod@AlanRMacLeod

 

"This is the continued descent into a fascist state. When the US government is arresting journalists then what else can one call it?" - @LeeCamp doesn't f--k around when discussing @MaxBlumenthal's dramatic detention. Full story I wrote in @MintPressNews https://www.mintpressnews.com/arrest-journalist-max-blumenthal-alternative-media/262637/ …

Arrest of Gov’t Critic and Journalist Max Blumenthal Signals Escalation in War on Alternative Media

The SWAT-style raid on the home of gov't critic and journalist Max Blumenthal signals a new level of escalation in the war on dissent.

mintpressnews.com

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As should be expected, zero corporate media propaganda conduits have thus far reported on the Blumenthal raid, which is supposedly connected to his behavior at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington. 

Andrew Cockburn@andrewmcockburn

 

Assuming there will be an outcry from @nytimes @washingtonpost @pressfreedom about this assault on the free press. https://twitter.com/abbymartin/status/1188997844427894784 …

Abby Martin@AbbyMartin

Max was arrested on a total fabrication concocted by the Venezuelan opposition to punish him for exposing them. Cops continue to do the bidding of rightwing provocateurs––If this happened in Venezuela to a critical journalist, they would be crying about Maduro's authoritarianism. https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/1188933829387534338 …

133

At least one establishment connected organization that claims to protect journalists from government persecution has refused to defend Blumenthal. 

Margaret Kimberley@freedomrideblog

 · 

 

Someone let me know when or if U.S. Press Freedom Tracker or Committee to Protect Journalists say anything about @MaxBlumenthal’s arrest. @uspresstracker @pressfreedom

U.S. Press Freedom Tracker@uspresstracker

We are aware of Blumenthal's arrest and based on the information available it does not meet the threshold for categorization on our site because he was not in the course of reporting when it happened.

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This is, of course, a technicality. Blumenthal is a journalist. He was reporting on the effort by Juan Guaido’s thugs to starve out and intimidate activists defending the Venezuelan embassy—with the permission of the elected Venezuelan government—although at the time of the purported incident he wasn’t writing or reporting. 

This should be expected. The US Freedom Tracker has partnered with Poynter, an organization working to circumvent alternative media. It is funded by George Soros’ Open Society and the Omidyar Network. Together both organizations pledged nearly a million and a half dollars to fund a supposed fact-checking network, that is to say identify and eradicate media that strays from permissible parameters established by the state.  

“Poynter has a longstanding history as an anchor in the journalism business. Its board of trustees includes execs from The New York Times, ESPN, Harvard, Vox, CBS, ABC, and The Washington Post. Poynter is currently working with Facebook and Google for its fact-checking programs,” writes Corinne Weaver.   

MAGA types and conservatives believe the jihad against media freedom by the corporate state is aimed exclusively at them and the perpetrators are largely Democrats and a handful of RINOS. This mindset is an unfortunate result of an ongoing operation to polarize and divide those holding differing political ideologies, a tactic that goes back to Julius Caesar, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Immanuel Kant. 

creatdive commons by-sa_RGB-350x122

 

UPDATE:

US government drops case against Max Blumenthal after jailing journalist on false charges

Max Blumenthal arrested Venezuela

As the mysterious disappearance of Secret Service records and complete absence of evidence supporting its case came to light, the US government dropped its bogus charges against journalist Max Blumenthal.

By Ben Norton - 07. December 2019

The US government has dropped its bogus charge of “simple assault” against journalist Max Blumenthal, after having him arrested on a 5-month-old warrant and jailed for nearly two days.

The Grayzone has learned that Secret Service call logs recorded during the alleged incident were either not kept or destroyed. The mysteriously missing evidence included print documents and radio recordings that may have exposed collusion between Secret Service officers operating under the auspices of the US State Department and violent right-wing hooligans in an operation to besiege peace activists stationed inside Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, DC.

Blumenthal, who is the editor of The Grayzone, was arrested at his home on October 25 by a team of DC cops who had threatened to break down his door. He later learned that he was listed in his arrest warrant as “armed and dangerous,” a rare and completely unfounded designation that placed Blumenthal at risk of severe harm by the police.

The government’s case rested entirely on a false accusation by a right-wing Venezuelan opposition activist, Naylet Pacheco, that Blumenthal and Benjamin Rubinstein had assaulted her while they were delivering food to Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, DC in the early morning on May 8. (Rubinstein is the brother of journalist and Grayzone contributor Alexander Rubinstein, who was reporting from inside the embassy at the time.)

The Grayzone has reported extensively on the corruption of coup leader Juan Guaidó, whom Washington recognizes as “interim president” of Venezuela, as well as the scandals plaguing Guaidó’s “ambassador” to the United States, Carlos Vecchio.

Vecchio personally presided over the weeks-long siege of Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, DC, stage-managing efforts by a mob of rabid right-wing activists to prevent peace activists from receiving deliveries of food and sanitary supplies.

As The Grayzone reported, the Donald Trump administration has diverted USAID funding originally intended to assist Central American migrants to pay the salaries of Vecchio and his team in Washington.

The US Department of Justice dismissed its case against Blumenthal on December 6. On the same day, it also dropped charges against Rubinstein, who had been arrested on May 8, hours after the food delivery.

“I’m relieved the government has finally decided to drop these phony charges against me. But I’m also disgusted,” Max Blumenthal said, “because I should never have been hauled out of my house and thrown in jail for an obviously politically motivated, false allegation that the police failed to investigate.”

US government charges against Max Blumenthal dropped

Disappeared Secret Service call logs ‘highly unusual’

Lawyers representing Blumenthal and Rubinstein placed multiple and highly specified discovery requests to the prosecutor for Secret Service call recordings and reports logged on May 8 at the location of the embassy food delivery. The US prosecutor was unable to satisfy the request, verbally confirming that if the documents had existed, they no longer did.

“This is highly unusual and highly notable, almost inexplicable in the ordinary course of operations that these records were not maintained and preserved,” said Carl Messineo, the counsel to Rubinstein and a co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. “Given the false nature of allegations and that they advanced a prosecution based on these it is really questionable that this information was not produced.”

Beyond the mysterious disappearance of the call logs, there was a complete dearth of evidence on the prosecution’s side.

William Moran, who served as Blumenthal’s attorney, wondered why law enforcement trusted Pacheco, an accuser with such clear credibility issues. “The local police advanced a fraudulent case against a journalist on the word of a complainant who told at least six different, increasingly exaggerated stories and made identical accusations that night about at least three other individuals,” he said.

One Venezuelan opposition member whose identity remains under a protective order provided testimony to police attempting to corroborate Pacheco’s claims about Blumenthal and Rubinstein. According to Moran, that person had been convicted for the impeachable offense of writing fraudulent checks.

“The DC police wholly failed to conduct a proper investigation before calling for the arrest and imprisonment of a dissident journalist that they labeled without any cause whatsoever as ‘armed and dangerous,’ placing him in mortal danger,” Moran stated.

A pattern of false assault allegations and police collusion

The arrest of Blumenthal was part of a wider pattern of political persecution of those who resisted the seizure of the Venezuelan embassy by a US-backed coup administration.

On November 13, police appeared at the home of Medea Benjamin to threaten her with arrest, after she too was falsely accused of assault. Benjamin, a co-founder and leader of the anti-war group CODEPINK, had been a prominent figure in the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective.

Benjamin was accused by members of the Venezuelan opposition of assaulting Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who had joined Carlos Vecchio for a press conference on Capitol Hill. The police eventually left without arresting Benjamin, because they did not have a warrant.

Video of the incident revealed that it was, in fact, Benjamin who was assaulted by Vecchio’s notoriously violent minions.

During the same press conference, a member of the Venezuelan opposition seized the phone of journalist Wyatt Reed. When Reed complained to a Secret Service officer on site, the officer brushed him off.

Diliana Bustillos, a Venezuelan opposition lobbyist who participated in a May 8 press conference falsely accusing peace activists of violence, threatened Reed after the incident, warning that he would “end up like [Max Blumenthal] and Ben [Rubinstein].”

The Venezuelan coup mongers are a criminal enterprise, aided & abetted by our government

Police look on as @carlosvecchio's goon assaults me, steals my phone & @dilianna says I'll "end up like @maxblumenthal and Ben [Rubinstein]"—a clear threat to have me locked up on BS charges pic.twitter.com/kiNPQXVdjs

— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) November 14, 2019

 

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a civil liberties lawyer with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, was present throughout much of the embassy siege. She noticed clear collusion between the right-wing opposition mob outside and the Secret Service, who were operating at the time under the watch of the State Department.

“Throughout the siege of the peace activists at the Venezuelan embassy,” Verheyden-Hillard said, “it was apparent to those on the scene that there was what looked like a facilitated effort between the government and the mob besieging the embassy.”

Mainstream media silence, demonization by regime change activists

The Washington Post reported extensively on the siege of the Venezuelan embassy, presenting the situation largely from the opposition’s perspective. The paper’s correspondent, Marissa Lang, uncritically conveyed Pacheco’s false charges, writing that “she said she was pushed against a wall and kicked by several men, then spent hours at a hospital being treated.”

However, the Washington Post did not report on Blumenthal’s arrest and imprisonment five months later or any of his public comments about the high-profile incident.

Meanwhile, an assortment of malicious regime change cheerleaders seized on Blumenthal’s arrest to defame him with false and now-discredited claims on social media:

  • Bellingcat founder Elliot Higgins promoted a Medium post by an anonymous author who has routinely smeared Blumenthal, which featured his arrest warrant and a video of the complainant’s false testimony. Bellingcat is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, a regime change arm of the US government, and the UK Foreign Office via the Zinc Network, among other entities.
  • Foreign Policy senior editor James Palmer declared without a scintilla of evidence that Blumenthal “assault[ed] people freely.”
  • Freelance journalist and longtime Syria regime change activist Danny Gold claimed falsely and without proof that Blumenthal “kicked an old woman in the stomach.”
  • Idrees Ahmad, a Stirling University professor of journalism who has obsessively denigrated Blumenthal and even phoned him to threaten him against publishing a factual investigative report on the Syrian White Helmets, falsely accused Blumenthal of “manhandling an elderly woman.”
  • Istanbul-based TRT World contributor Wilson Dizard suggested that Blumenthal was guilty before being proven innocent, insisting that a Grayzone account of his arrest “does not actually provide an alternative version of events.”
  • Oz Katerji, the notorious regime change fanatic who was recently fired from the Daily Mail for denigrating its columnist, Peter Hitchens, on social media, declared that he would “probably buy the guys who shackled pro-Assad war crimes denier Max Blumenthal to the floor for assaulting a Venezuelan protester a beer or two.” Katerji later insisted without any basis that “there’s video evidence” to support the false charge against Blumenthal.
  • Neil Hauer, a self-described “freelance analyst” who has previously consulted for the European Union and US Marines, called journalist Jeet Heer a “moron” for publicly advocating for Blumenthal.
  • UK liberal interventionist Sunny Hundal also attacked Heer for defending Blumenthal, asserting that “given the person in question I think you should exercise some judgement before accepting his story at face value.”
  • The anonymous right-wing Reagan Battalion Twitter account falsely claimed that Blumenthal was “arrested for kicking a pregnant woman,” misrepresenting the identity of the complainant while not even bothering to frame the non-existent incident as an alleged assault. In a previous spasm of mendacity, the Reagan Battalion declared that Blumenthal “works for” foreign socialist governments and smeared him as “a puppet for every dictator around the globe.”

Asked about the wave of libelous attacks spurred by his arrest on false charges, Blumenthal commented, “The outpouring of support I’ve received from around the world has been more profound and meaningful than any of the smears from the usual suspects. But that does not mean that I will let this campaign of lies go unanswered. This whole episode began with a false, defamatory accusation, and I plan to take the necessary actions to see it ends with a sense of justice.”

 is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker. He is the assistant editor of The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with editor Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.  https://bennorton.com

 

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