A Graham Newsletter (#35) Misinformation, Disinformation, and how to fight all that.

Recent weeks have seen many developments, including the blocking of my YouTube channel, for 2 weeks, for a video from Donbass, from 2014, of which I’ve written about here – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/07/fighting-censorship-and-the-future-of-my-18-videos/

The actions of YouTube have forced me to remove all 18+ video material – from the war in Donbass, from my YouTube channel – I’ve written about that here, and will be posting the material here.

In removing this material, I removed an archive of over 100 videos, much of it documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. Millions of views, new views every day. Of course, people need to know this, to see this. I’ll be using this site, the Truth Speaker, where there’s no censor at all, to present these videos in the correct format. This video, result of Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk, August 2014 –

And here, information about, and context of this video – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/09/18-donbass-war-when-ukrainian-shelling-hit-lugansk-august-2014/

Not able to use YouTube, which holds an effective monopoly for videos, means we need to try that bit harder to get the word, the truth, out. Please, share, repost, like, do what you can – we need to be together in this goal, of more people knowing the truth! 

This was the video which started the problems with YouTube, with them removing this, then content featured in the video (already on YouTube for years)

I’ve now taken the necessary steps to bring my account in line with ‘YouTube Community Standards’, but the problem is that the ‘standards’ have changed – a video that was approved by them in 2014, and on the site for years, is now a ‘violation’. That video, my first to pass 2 million views, and rising all the time, one which had a real impact in showing people the realities of war in Donbass

Of course, it can be hard, emotionally, for me to remember these thing. I’ve written about that here. 

Censorship is just one of the issues facing journalists. There are the dangers inherent with the profession, for which some journalists have made the ultimate sacrifice. Here, I’ve written about US journalist Christopher Allen, killed while covering conflict in Sudan –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/07/christopher-allen-kia-a-journalist-is-a-journalist/

And Kim Wall, recently killed while reporting on a homemade submarine, off Denmark. 

May they both rest in peace, and be remembered for their work. 

I’ve written about them both here, and about the role of a journalist, to go to where there is either the least information, or the most misinformation – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/14/the-role-of-a-journalist-to-go-to-where-there-is-the-most-disinformation-or-no-information/

The world has several current key epicentres of mis, and disinformation. North Korea is certainly one of them. I was very pleased to present an exclusive interview, on the Truth Speaker, with the guys who made this indie documentary, The Haircut, well worth a watch:

And the exclusive interview, with Alex and Aleksa – here! 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/15/exclusive-interview-with-the-haircut-north-korea-documentary-guys/

As for me, I’ve written here, about moving on from Donbass, but staying with Donbass, when I’ll return there, and more. 

For now, I’m in another of one of the world’s disinformation capitals, Crimea!!

That began with, a simple, but effective, tackling of the constant rhetoric from Ukraine that the beaches in Crimea are ’empty’, ‘everything is bad’ etc... How better to do that, than to let Ukrainians in Crimea themselves, speak for themselves –

Full interviews here! 

And look out for much more reportage to come! Fighting information, and disinformation, on the beaches and on! 

Christopher Allen, KIA: A Journalist is a Journalist

I’ve written about the American journalist Christopher Allen, recently killed covering conflict in the South of Sudan, here, on the Truth Speaker:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/08/29/christopher-allen-remembering-a-fallen-journalist/

The South Sudan government has recently changed its story and now says it “regrets” the killing of an American freelance journalist, on Saturday, August 26th, sending its condolences to his family. Chris was killed by South Sudanese government forces while embedded with rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in the South Sudan-Uganda border area of Kaya.

But initially, Information Minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei had said:

“Sixteen rebels, including a white rebel, were killed. The identity of that man is not known, but he was among the rebels who attacked the garrison.” Then, Makuei changed the narrative, saying Allen was killed in the cross-fire as government troops fought to repulse the rebels.

Yet, Chris was shot in the head, and at pretty close range, by Sudan government forces. This wasn’t ‘caught in the crossfire’, etc, someone saw Chris, and shot him in the head…

A rebel spokesman said that Chris (a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, who began his journalistic career in Ukraine, 2014) was wearing a clearly marked press vest, and had been shot at after he began to take pictures.  “Allen was targeted. The person who shot saw him very clearly,” Colonel Paul Lam Gabriel told the AFP.

Sudan’s government have said Allen was “not targeted” and that the government regretted it, but added that “anybody on that side is usually a target. Mr Makuei claimed Allen had entered South Sudan illegally after being denied a visa “because of his hostile reports.” I could find no evidence of his ‘hostile reports’.

They further added  “If Allen entered South Sudan illegally then he is a criminal,” said Mr Makuei. “Had he not died we would have apprehended him and taken him to the court.” (Note: Chris apparently entered South Sudan through Kampala. About 20 other journalists also were denied entry into the country by South Sudan’s Media Authority in May and June.) And that “that if Allen was reporting “on the activities of the rebels then definitely he was a rebel.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said in a statement it was “deeply troubled” by the suggestion Allen was not deserving of civilian status and called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of his death. His parents support this investigation, adding: 

“We respect and admire our son, whose unyielding passion for journalism was driven by his desire to tell some of the world’s most critical stories. As loving parents, we were fearful whenever he entered a war zone and our hearts sank when we learned he was going to South Sudan. Yet Christopher was a truth seeker, committed to uncovering the full context of the stories he reported even when this required personal risk. His research was firsthand and thorough, and he cared deeply about the real people involved in and affected by conflict.

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved son and cannot begin to imagine our lives without him. Like Christopher, we believe access to information is fundamental to a free and thriving society and we must continue to protect journalists in order to maintain press freedom in the United States and across the globe. Just as Christopher sought the truth of the tragedies and difficulties of others, we will now work to establish the truth of the circumstances of his killing.”

More than one million people have fled into neighbouring Uganda since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, creating one of the world’s biggest refugee crises.

Ten journalists have been killed in South Sudan since 2012. My own view is that whether or not Chris was wearing a ‘press’ vest is unimportant. He was clearly not a combatant. He was clearly a journalist, doing the job of a journalist, reporting from the scene. South Sudan have ruled out a probe into Chris’ death. 

I remember this tweet Chris sent me, when I was in the Lugansk blockade of 2014, Donbass.

And I’ll remember Chris Allen as a brave man, a journalist, unjustly killed, trying to bring us the truth. Respect, and RIP Chris.

My 3-Year Ban from Ukraine Has Now Expired: Statement

My 3-year- ban from Ukraine has now expired, and I’m legally free to enter Ukraine again.

I have no current plans to do this, the radicals and terrorists there are unlikely to pay much heed to my having served the ban, and even obeyed it – I did not once go into Ukrainian territory in this time.

However, it can’t be used to ‘discredit’ my work from Donbass any more by the BBC, other propagandists.

I am now not banned from Ukraine, and work in Donbass just like any other journalist.

A Graham Newsletter (#32) The UK Ups Support for Ukraine, BBC Come After Me

This is a factual newsletter, lots of info, lets get right to it.

Ben Stimson was recently jailed in the UK for his participation in Donbass. The UK effectively use Ben as the fall guy to send out a statement: they are upping their support for Ukraine:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/18/rank-injustice-hypocrisy-in-the-uk-the-case-of-ben-stimson-and-chris-garrett/

Shortly after, the UK update their travel advice for Ukraine, stating: “If you travel to eastern Ukraine to fight, or to assist others engaged in the conflict, your activities may amount to offences against UK terrorism or other legislation and you could be prosecuted on your return to the UK”.

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/update-uk-updates-ukraine-travel-advice/

The UK also announces the other day, that it’s stepping up military support to Ukraine: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/united-kingdom-steps-up-support-of-ukrainian-army-still-shelling-civilians/

And, in this time, the UK’s propagada agency, the BBC have come for me: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/exclusive-how-the-uk-are-trying-to-stop-my-work-full-story/

What do the BBC want? They want to do an interview with me, where I either state, or they make out that I stated, that I’m ‘returning to Donbass’, having done a hit on me as a ‘Russian propagandist, banned from Ukraine as a threat to national security’, etc.

Public outcry at the repression of a journalist deflected, by the BBC, onto ‘UK authorities stop Russian propagandist’. 

The UK have resorted to this now, because actually last September, UK ambassador Judith Gough stated, despite her opporbrium of my work that I hadn’t committed any offences in the UK, so they couldn’t touch me (although if Ukraine get me, they can do what they like).

Yet, things have clearly changed.  Ben Stimson hadn’t committed any offences in the UK, actually he hadn’t committed any offences anywhere given that he’d never fired a shot in anger, but they still got him.

So, they sent in the BBC to find something new to frame me with, in the light of Ben’s conviction, and precedent set. Would they jail me? Almost certainly no. Would they try to stop me leaving the country? They’d love to. 

By the way, you can read my recent article about Judith Gough, here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/uk-ambassador-judith-gough-having-a-gay-time-in-ukraine-while-war-in-donbass-goes-on/

And my recent reportage, from Moscow here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/20/my-visit-to-the-ukrainian-cultural-centre-in-moscow-special-reportage/

And a look at recent Donbass reportage here: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/17/my-recent-donbass-period-25-key-moments/

There’s a lot of reportage to come, but no longer in the UK will I write, or can I write about ‘reportage to come from Donbass, Crimea’. However, I’ll always tell the truth. I’m leaving the UK soon, to finish my documentary from Luxembourg, about Belval. After that, there will be reportage from Russia.

As ever, all my work is 100% supported by individual donations on crowdfunding, and I’m hugely grateful to anyone who helps keep my independent, objective journalism alive:

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

Exclusive: How the UK are trying to Stop my Work: Full Story

I’ve never really blown this up before, because I generally believe in getting on with my work without fuss. However, to pre-empt anything which may be, I believe it’s time to get this in the public domain.

Brief overview: 

I was living in Odessa at the time of Euromaidan in late 2013, having previously lived 2 years in Kiev. Working as a freelance journalist, doing some English teaching to pay bills. My position on Maidan differed to other journalists due to what I’d seen in Kiev myself in my time living there. So, not receiving offers to cover Maidan, I started blogging about Euromaidan in November 2013, filmed there in January 2014, and went on from there – filming and reporting for my YouTube channel, doing occasional interviews for RT. In March of 2014, I went to Crimea to report for myself, having already travelled around all of the, then, east Ukraine.

In April, RT asked me to go to Donetsk for a week’s work. I went, continued working for them until July of 2014, after my 2nd deportation.

I went back to Donbass, of my own volition, in August of 2014, and continued working there. I accepted an offer to work, on a freelance contract with Russian channel Zvezda, in September, and worked with them until I ended our working relationship in March of 2015.

Since then, I’ve worked entirely for myself, via crowdfunding, in Donbass, Russia, across Europe, and the UK.

The UK Government, and Myself

My first contact with the UK government was after my 2nd deportation from Ukraine, in July of 2014, when I asked for their help. They flatly refused to give their help – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2015/09/17/when-the-uks-fco-couldnt-help-british-journalists/

Yet, in similar circumstances, they did everything they could to help BBC journalists… 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2016/04/06/the-uks-fco-there-to-help-immediately-if-youre-the-bbc/

On the 18th February, the FCO wrote this to me: 

Dear Graham

We have been alerted to a number of social media updates that have caused some to raise questions about your presence in Ukraine in a journalistic capacity.

Particular things that have raised concerns include being photographed while wearing military uniforms, separatist insignia, or holding firearms. We are very concerned that you may be putting yourself in danger through these types of activities which could be seen as a blurring of the line between journalism and active involvement in a conflict.

I can only repeat that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Crimea, Donetsk oblast and Lugansk oblast. We advise against all but essential travel to Kharkiv oblast. Our travel advice is available here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ukraine. As we have previously discussed with you, we recommend that British Nationals leave these areas.

Your safety, and that of other British Nationals is a priority for us. Although we are not able to provide consular services within these areas, please do not hesitate to contact us either in London or at the British Embassy in Kyiv if you require consular assistance.

Sarah Winter
Consular Directorate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Now, this is dressed up as concern, which I took as being entirely insincere, given the refusal of the FCO to do anything to help me after my deportations.  And they key part here: photographed while wearing military uniforms, separatist insignia, or holding firearms.

You may like or not like that I’ve done, and do that, but I’ve always been quite clear about the reasons for it: military uniforms when at positions so as not to attract danger to those I’m with by wearing more visible colours. Firearms, because I was doing reportage on firing drills, and as I always do, got as close to the action as possible (within reasonable boundaries) – by joining in.

The message from the FCO was clear in any case: We don’t like what you’re doing, stop it. 

I replied, making the above points, to which the FCO didn’t reply. However, when I returned to the UK, Heathrow, on March 4th of 2015, after a near seven-month spell working in Donbass, what I believe to be a senior member of the British special services was waiting for me, and questioned me for 4 hours.

The interrogation, where I was held under the Section 7 terrorism act, was extensive, covering my working, and personal life. It was also, at times, provocative, with my being asked ‘why I was producing Russian propaganda?’, and even ‘why was I lying about events in Crimea, and Donbass?’.

The second one in particular produced a visceral response, where I defended my work: I was always on the scene, I always report the truth, with full integrity. How dare someone who has got all his information from second-hand, biased sources, accuse me, who had been there and seen for myself, of propaganda! After this, probably outburst, my interrogator momentarily chuckled, and said he ‘had to ask that’.

About my personal life, I have no secrets, and gave information already in the public domain. The same for my working life, no secrets, and I gave no information not in the public domain. My laptop was taken away for the duration of the interview, and returned to me after. It was old, and damaged, in any case I binned it shortly after. There was no confidential information on it.

I was released after 4 hours, with the special services operative making it clear that he’d been sent to do a job, even kind of apologising. It had neither been particularly stressful, or intense. It was just a bit inconvenient, my mum was waiting for me, I was already tired from speaking to the MH17 investigation for 6 hours that day.

But, ok, that was that. No one touched or bothered me in those couple of months back in the UK, and in fact I had no further contact with the FCO until I was arrested, and deported, from Latvia, in early 2016 – the powers hadn’t liked the way I’d covered a pro-Nazi demonstration there.

During my detention, I know that people called the UK FCO on my behalf. They said they were ‘aware of the situation‘, ‘doing what they could‘, etc. But they didn’t do anything to help me, and when I wrote to them after, also didn’t do anything to help me.

In September of 2016, a scandal kicked off, after some objected to the way I’d questioned Ukrainian terrorist Vladimir Zhemchugov. Judith Gough, UK ambassador to Ukraine, responded as such:

UK has no grounds to ban journalist Phillips from leaving his country – ambassador

British Ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough has said she was appalled by the behavior of British journalist Graham Phillips during the release of Ukrainian captive Volodymyr Zhemchuhov, however the UK government has no reason to prohibit him from leaving the country.

In a statement published on the official Facebook page of the UK Embassy in Ukraine on Friday, Gough said she watched the video of the prisoner exchange and was appalled by Graham Phillips’ behavior towards Zhemchuhov.

She noted that a lot of people called on the UK to deprive Phillips of the British passport. However, the UK government does not have sufficient grounds to do this. Phillips did not commit any offenses in the UK, which could become the basis for the British government to ban him from leaving the country, Gough said. If he violated Ukrainian legislation, it is up to the Ukrainian authorities to decide on appropriate actions in relation to Phillips in Ukraine, she added.

So, that’s that. But, things have been changing recently, as the UK publicly, sharply ups its support for Ukraine, with stronger statements of support, and increased military backing, and looks to take out anything non-aligned with that position, while sending out an aggressive message – the recent imprisoning of Ben Stimson, and the updating of travel advice to Ukraine. Specifically they’ve extended the threat of punishment to those who may ‘assist those engaged in conflict’. What’s the definition of ‘assisting’? They don’t say.

And now, it seems, they’ve come for me. The BBC have been sent to do a hit piece on me, read about that here. And that would then pave the way for the UK government to take action against me, knowing that any public outcry has been allayed. It wouldn’t be ‘action against a journalist‘, they’d make it ‘action against a Russian propagandist‘, and of course, the purpose of the BBC fishing trip, was for me to state on the record that I’m ‘returning to Donbass‘. Then it’s ‘Russian propagandist banned from Ukraine as threat to state security stopped at UK border as he attempts to return‘, and most people, knowing nothing of the real facts, have no problem with that.

So, that’s the story of what’s been, with myself and the UK authorities, and I’m not only ready for what’s to come, I’m determined they’re not going to get away with it.

Oh, and just as you’ll be reading this, in UK authority, my 3-year-ban from Ukraine official ends on July 26th, by the way. You’re late, clumsy, out of shape, out of luck.