The Month Of May Sees Governments Across The World Strangling Freedom Of The Press
San Francisco, California, May 10th, 2019. Freelance journalist Brian Carmody was sitting in his home when, armed with a search warrant and sledgehammer, 10 San Francisco police officers forced their way into his house, handcuffed him and seized notebooks, cameras, laptops, mobile telephones, and everything else in his home office.
According to the LA times, the search warrant was obtained after Carmody had declined to answer questions about how he managed to obtain a confidential police report. The report involved the death of public defender Jeff Adachi who died under mysterious circumstances.
Carmody had used the report in part of a news package which he sent to three separate television news outlets, inciting harsh criticism of the police once the understanding of the leak became known. Police spokesmen assured critics that the warrant was approved by a judge and part of a lawful investigation.
However David Snyder, executive director of the Free Expression Advocacy Organization: the First Amendment Coalition, told the L.A. Times that the search violated California's shield law, which protects journalists' relationships with sources.
“It’s pretty plainly unlawful,” said Snyder, who noted that the statute governing search warrants expressly forbids police from seizing items covered by the shield law.
According to the CPJ, Carmody explained that the tens of thousands of dollars in equipment police seized from his home, accounted for his entire livelihood, and took away his ability to work.
From Paris with Love
Amnesty International reports three investigative journalists, Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal at a journal called Disclose, and Benoît Collombat with Radio France, have been summoned before a court this week in the opening stages of a preliminary investigation into leaked military documents.
Using the leaked documents, the journalists put together an incredible presentation called “Made in France,” explaining how all manner of French-made military equipment was discretely sold to Saudi Arabia and the UAE during their ongoing half-war, half-catastrophe in Yemen, and what impact they’ve had on the civilian population.
Incredibly, the leaks revealed that during a meeting on October 3rd, 2018 consisting of senior military officials and French President Emmanuel Macron, reports and maps were produced which detailed not only the tragic results of their use, but the precise locations of the French-made weapons on the battlefield.
These included heavy munitions like artillery shells, bombs, aircraft, mobile artillery pieces, and tanks.
The documents demonstrate the remarkable danger these armaments pose to the Yemeni civilians which have been written off as collateral damage time and time again in strikes by the coalition of Sunni-Muslim and select western nations including France and the United States.
According to CPJ, there are currently no journalists imprisoned in France. It could be that the investigation will focus more on defining the leak rather than prosecuting the journalists. However this is also illegal, and given that Made in France also details how a redacted version of the Yemen Papers was given to the parliament at large, excluding the maps and ledgers, it would seem unlikely that Macron and his military cabinet would want something like Made in France to ever happen again.
Amnesty International has drafted a letter of support for the three French journalists, which you can read and sign.
The Drone Papers
Domestically, President Trump is holding course to pass Obama for prosecution of journalists under the 1917 Espionage Act. Daniel Hale, a former Air force member and U.S. intelligence analyst, turned anti-war advocate was arrested last Thursday and could face 50 years in prison. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hale is being charged with espionage after leaking 17 documents containing the details of the secretive U.S. drone program.
The indictment does not name the reporter whom Hale shared the documents with, but according to Democracy Now, unnamed government sources have told media outlets that the reporter is investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept.
In 2015, The Intercept published a special report called the Drone Papers exposing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. It appears the documents also laid out the unorthodox legal channels which have prevented any arrests being made following civilian casualties resulting from decisions to drone strike particular humans.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 2018 set a third-consecutive record for the worldwide number of incarcerated journalists. 251 beats out the records set in 2017, and 2016, as the largest number of jailed reporters and journalists since the CPJ started keeping track.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, China, and Eritrea are all notable culprits.
The famous treatment of whistle blowers Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, over the last decade, punctuates an increased pressure on investigative reporting in America. In 2018 the United States arrested nine journalists. Seven foreign journalists seeking asylum in the United States due to hostile domestic forces were held in prolonged detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The right to report on governmental action is one of the only tools a citizenry or commonwealth wields in defense of its liberty. President’s like Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, and Barack Obama understand this, and seem to be quite happy to rein in the freedom to publish whenever it becomes inconvenient for them.
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Note on biases: World at Large strives to maintain impeccable journalistic integrity, and though this article contains only facts and observations reported by other sources or through our own research, World at Large is a journalistic publication and therefore stands in solidarity with our professional colleagues at home and abroad. We will be following their stories closely.