By Aaron Kesel
All over the world there has been a crackdown of freedom of the press and speech. Now, Morocco has arrested a journalist and YouTuber for criticizing their King, amid Singapore defending its Orwellian fake news law.
Morocco has arrested YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki and journalist Omar Radi in two separate cases for criticizing the Moroccan King Mohammed VI and making comments about a court decision and the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, New Indian Express reported.
The YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki, known as “Moul Kaskita,” was sentenced by a court in the western city of Settat to four years in prison for “insulting the King,” his lawyer Mohamed Ziane told AFP.
In a separate case, a Moroccan journalist and activist was charged and detained over a tweet that criticized a court decision, his defense council told AFP.
The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association had deplored in July an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco.
Meanwhile, Singapore diplomats have been defending the country’s “fake news” law known as the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act. Singapore was one of the first countries to introduce a “fake news” law, last October that drew instant backlash with many warning how it would be abused, as Activist Post reported.
Since the law was enacted in October, authorities in the Southeast Asian city-state have invoked it four times against critics and once against Facebook Inc., which was required to attach a government-issued “correction” to content deemed to contain falsehoods, Yahoo News reported.
Several Singapore diplomats argued against the press misrepresenting the law.
Foo Chi Hsia, Singapore’s High Commissioner to the U.K., stated that The Economist had misrepresented the law, writing in a Dec. 21st letter to the editor that it “should be looked at in the same context as our belief in the right of reply, which in our view enhances rather than reduces the quality of public discourse.”
“Readers can see both and decide for themselves which is the truth,” she wrote. “How does twinning factual replies to falsehoods limit free speech?”
Further, Singapore’s ambassador to the U.S., Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, disputed a Washington Post story that cited critics saying the law could have a “chilling effect on online free expression.”
Singapore and Morocco aren’t the only countries to go after free speech and press, the coveted Russia who is accused of hacking the U.S. election without a shred of public verifiable evidence I might add, has also introduced a “fake news” law. Russia’s law bans irresponsible “fake news” and public dissent against authorities, as Activist Post reported.
With that we just want to ask, what could possibly go wrong?
Ever since the U.S. itself signaled a potential end to journalistic freedoms and freedom of speech with the arrest of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange in May, all over the world countries have started cracking down on those freedoms as well. For example, shortly after Assange’s arrest there was a raid at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) by the Australian federal police (AFP) over a series of articles the broadcaster ran in 2017 into the clandestine operations of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
In February of next year, Assange will face extradition to the United States for 17 charges under the Espionage Act. If Assange is extradited to the U.S. for trial the world of journalism may never be the same. This is because no journalist has ever been tried under the Espionage Act; however, the precedent is already being felt as more and more countries push for laws against journalism under the guise of protecting against the spread of “false information.”
If that’s not enough for you to actually care about what’s happening with press freedoms, here’s something that is directed at you the reader. In 2017, Activist Post reported that prior to Assange’s arrest a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, Ann Ravel, Abby K. Wood, an associate professor at the University of Southern California, and Irina Dykhne, a student at USC Gould School of Law proposed an insane law that seeks to punish readers of news with libel if a story is deemed false. That means they want to charge you the reader reading this with libel if you share a fake story, an absolutely insane proposal.
The question that everyone needs to ask themselves is who decides what is “false information?” If it’s a body set up in the government or a Ministry Of Truth, we are effectively making George Orwell’s fictional 1984 our reality. We don’t need to police information, we need to monitor the rise of tyrants; and if we make journalism become more of a dangerous profession than it already is, journalists will be afraid to do their jobs for fear of imprisonment, fines, torture or even death.
At least 63 professional journalists were killed doing their jobs in 2018, a 15 percent increase over last year, according to a Reporters Without Borders annual report.
That’s just statistics for 2018. A journalist ignored by the mainstream press, Serena Shim, also uncovered the smuggling of ISIS soldiers through the Turkish and Syrian border using NGO trucks. The Turkish MIT accused her of spying and 2 days later she was killed in a suspicious accident with a cement truck.
Further, Shim was banned from Turkey by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, only to be allowed back in and then murdered.
The U.S. has also failed to address the Saudis for the issue of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman who is accused of being behind the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was accused by the CIA of brutally dismembering Khashoggi last year. Now, Trump’s son in law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner admitted that he believes Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis and they should be transparent. However, he doesn’t think that the deals he organized should be walked back, while stating Saudi Arabia should be held accountable. Then again, the U.S. are hypocrites because politicians have for years been calling for the assassination of Assange, a federal crime, and there has been no accountability for those actions yet.
Therefore, by making “fake news” laws we will allow tyranny to rise all over the world, and governments to commit illegal actions against their citizenry. What’s more important, Democracy being protected and society being free from tyrants, or potential fake information spreading that will influence some people? Choose wisely.
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