November 17, 2017

Baloch activists condemn detention of leader Mehran Marri

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/baloch-activists-condemn-detention-of-leader-mehran-marri201711171025090002/

ANI | Updated: Nov 17, 2017 10:26IST

Washington/Geneva [USA/Switzerland], November 17 (ANI): Baloch leaders and activists across the world have condemned the detention of key leader of their struggle, Mehran Marri, by the Swiss authorities at the Zurich Airport.

"The generals of the Pakistan Army and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) are the most deceptive bullies and blackmailers in the world," said Ahmar Mustikhan, a senior journalist and founder of the American Friends of Balochistan (AFB).

Mustikhan asked the Baloch leaders to not delay hiring the best lawyers to counter Pakistan's illegal moves.

"Pakistan generals have looted as much as USD 150 billion in kickbacks, commissions and bribes during arms deals and much of this money is stashed in Swiss bank accounts. This dirty money explains the Swiss action," he added.

France-based Baloch activist Munir Mengal said the Baloch Voice Association condemned the barring of Mehran Marri from entering to Switzerland with his family.

"The detention of Mehran Marri and a lifetime ban on his entry in Switzerland by the authorities is very discouraging and a sorrowful incident. Marri is a secular political pro-independence Baloch leader who has been politically struggling for the independence of occupied Balochistan," Germany based Shafi Burfat, the chief of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), said.

Switzerland based United Kashmir People's National Party activist, Nasir Aziz, said, "I am surprised to know that Mehran Marri, a Baloch Nationalist leader and Human Rights activist, who has been regularly participating in the UNHRC Sessions at Geneva, has been prevented to enter Swiss."

Aziz added that Marri had raised cases of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in Balochistan in the UNHRC.

Marri was detained by the Swiss authorities at the Zurich airport yesterday. Informing the same, he tweeted, "Friends, I have been detained at Zurich Airport for the last few hours and feel I am under arrest by Swiss authorities on request of the Pakistan Govt. My wife and children are also with me in detention. Don't worry, being detained is nothing new for the Baloch..."

"My father spent many years in far worse conditions, but never have up. The peaceful & legal struggle for an independent #Balochistan free of Pakstani occupation shall continue no matter what the Punjabi generals & babus of that excuse of a country plan. We'll persevere"

He further said, "I have now been informed that I have been placed under a lifetime ban on entering Switzerland at the request of Islamabad. So much for the Geneva UNHRC being the world capital of human rights. I am still in detention at Zurich Airport with my wife and children. Stay tuned 4 more."

The youngest son of the late Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, Mehran Marri, was travelling to Geneva to attend the Baloch unity moot called by his brother-in-law, Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP).

Brahamdagh, who organised the meeting in Geneva, speaking to ANI on the detention, stated, "It is sad and shocking for me that he was stopped and detained with his family and children."

"I am really shocked how a neutral country like Switzerland can do that. Mehran's visiting the country is not new," Brahamdagh said, adding that the former used to often visit Switzerland "for last 15 years".

Baloch activist Bhawal Mengal also condemned the Pakistani military's "malicious and desperate attempt".

"This is a malicious and desperate attempt by the Pakistani military establishment to malign and curtail the freedom of Baloch representatives, who are working to raise awareness on the worsening situation in Balochistan and Pakistan's crimes against humanity . Developed countries should not be intimidated by Pakistan, which has been an international sponsor of terrorism," Mengal said.

Other than Mehran Marri, his estranged elder brother Hyrbyair Marri, who heads the Free Balochistan Movement, was expected to attend the Baloch unity meeting, that begins this Saturday.

Meanwhile, reports say that Marri has now been released and he, along with his family, has now taken off to London. (ANI)

Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff Opening Statement at Open Hearing with Tech Companies

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Washington, November 1, 2017 | comments

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered the following open statement during an open committee hearing titled “Social Media and the 2016 Election.” Below is his remarks, as prepared:

In March of this year, our committee had its first open hearing and then FBI Director Comey revealed that he had opened a counterintelligence investigation involving Trump associates and the Russians. Then, we knew next to nothing about the Russians use of social media to attack Hillary Clinton — indeed the technology companies themselves only recently have identified the reach of that facet of the Kremlin’s active measures campaign.

Today, you will see a representative sample of those ads, and we will ask the social media companies what they know about the full extent of Russian use of social media, why it took them so long to discover this abuse of their platforms, and what they intend to do about it to protect our country from this malign influence in the future.

But first, it is worth taking stock of where we are in the investigation. During our March hearing, I posed the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in any aspect of its influence operations.  In essence, did the Russians offer to help the campaign, and did the campaign accept? And if the Trump campaign did accept, explicitly or implicitly, what did the Russians do to make good on that understanding?

We now know, as a result of the guilty plea by Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopolous, that the Russians approached the Trump campaign as early as April of 2016, to inform them that they were in possession of dirt on Hillary Clinton, in the form of thousands of stolen emails. This timing is significant, because it means that the Trump campaign was informed of Russia’s involvement with stolen emails, and their intent to release them, before anyone else.

But Mr. Papadopolous was not the only Trump campaign figure the Russians approached, nor would his lies to federal agents be the last example of Trump associates making false statements about their interactions with the Russians. 

We now know that the uppermost levels of the Trump campaign were also informed that the Russians had dirt on Clinton, and that it was offered to the campaign in what was described as part of the Putin government’s effort to help Trump.  That offer appears to have been accepted when the President’s son said that he would love the assistance and suggested that the best timing would be late summer.  And in late summer, the Russians would begin dumping the dirt on Hillary Clinton. The President and his son would later deceptively claim the meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower was about adoptions.

It is not clear from Mr. Papadopoulos’ plea or the emails which established the meeting at Trump Tower, whether the Russians communicated that the mechanism they would use to help the campaign may not involve the direct provision of the stolen emails to the campaign, but their publication through Wikileaks and Moscow’s own cutouts, like Guccifer 2.  What is clear is this: The Kremlin repeatedly told the campaign it had dirt on Clinton and offered to help it, and at least one top Trump campaign official, the President’s own son, accepted.

Apart from publishing stolen emails, the Russians also used social media to assist the Trump Campaign.  Whether the Russians and Trump coordinated these efforts, we do not yet know, but it is true that the Russians mounted what could be described as an independent expenditure campaign on Trump’s behalf.  Russian ads on Twitter, for example, promoted stories about Hillary Clinton’s allegedly poor health or legal problems.

But the social media campaign was also designed to further a broader Kremlin objective: sowing discord in the U.S. by inflaming passions on a range of divisive issues. The Russians did so by weaving together fake accounts, pages, and communities to push politicized content and videos, and to mobilize real Americans to sign online petitions and join rallies and protests. They also bought ads, like these:

·         [Ad 1] Black Matters was brought to us from St. Petersburg and amassed over 224,000“likes.”

·         [Ad 2] This page garnered over 135,000 Facebook followers. The Russians bought sufficient ad space for it to appear almost 145,000 times across Facebook accounts that had expressed an interest in Donald Trump, stopping illegal immigration, conservatism, Confederate States of America, Dixie, or the Republican party.

Russia exploited real vulnerabilities that exist across online platforms and we must identify, expose, and defend ourselves against similar covert influence operations in the future.  The companies here today must play a central role as we seek to better protect legitimate political expression, while preventing cyberspace from being misused by our adversaries. 

Memo Describing Representative Sampling of Advertising

Exhibits Used During Open Hearing

Additional Advertising Not Used During Open Hearing

Russian-linked Twitter Handles

November 15, 2017

Russian lawmakers approve law on media 'foreign agents'

Denis PinchukChristian Lowe

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that would give Moscow the power to force foreign media to brand the news they provide to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and also to disclose where they get their funding.

Journalists take pictures of the city at the Iset Tower skyscraper in Yekaterinburg, Russia August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The legislation, which needs approval from the upper house and President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law, is part of the fallout from allegations that the Kremlin interfered in the U.S. presidential election last year in favor of Donald Trump.

SPONSORED

U.S. intelligence officials accuse the Kremlin of using Russian media organizations it finances to influence U.S. voters, and this week Washington required Russian state broadcaster RT to register a U.S.-based affiliate company as a “foreign agent”.

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech. It has vowed to retaliate by imposing restrictions on some foreign media operating in Russia.

In the 450-seat State Duma, 414 lawmakers voted on Wednesday for the bill on a third and final reading, with none against, Russian news agencies reported.

If the upper chamber and Putin also back the draft, it will become law but implementation of its provisions would be left to the discretion of the Russian government.

Putin has been fiercely critical of U.S. measures toward Russian media, but he has not given wholehearted support to the draft legislation, saying at the weekend it “might be a little too harsh”.

BRANDED AS FOREIGN AGENTS

The draft legislation states that Russian authorities can designate foreign media as “foreign agents”, making them subject to the same requirements that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organizations under a 2012 law.

That law, heavily criticized by Western governments, was an attempt by Moscow to insulate itself from a wave of popular revolutions in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Moscow said they were fomented by Western governments using civil society groups as proxies.

Under the 2012 law, “foreign agents” have to include in any information they publish or broadcast to Russian audiences a mention of their “foreign agent” designation.

They also have to apply for inclusion in a government register, submit regular reports on their sources of funding, on their objectives, on how they spend their money, and who their managers are.

They can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make sure they comply with the rules, according to the 2012 law.

Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Russian lawmakers approve law on media 'foreign agents'

Denis PinchukChristian Lowe

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved a bill that would give Moscow the power to force foreign media to brand the news they provide to Russians as the work of “foreign agents” and also to disclose where they get their funding.

Journalists take pictures of the city at the Iset Tower skyscraper in Yekaterinburg, Russia August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The legislation, which needs approval from the upper house and President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law, is part of the fallout from allegations that the Kremlin interfered in the U.S. presidential election last year in favor of Donald Trump.

SPONSORED

U.S. intelligence officials accuse the Kremlin of using Russian media organizations it finances to influence U.S. voters, and this week Washington required Russian state broadcaster RT to register a U.S.-based affiliate company as a “foreign agent”.

The Kremlin denies meddling in the election and has said the restrictions on Russian broadcasters in the United States are an attack on free speech. It has vowed to retaliate by imposing restrictions on some foreign media operating in Russia.

In the 450-seat State Duma, 414 lawmakers voted on Wednesday for the bill on a third and final reading, with none against, Russian news agencies reported.

If the upper chamber and Putin also back the draft, it will become law but implementation of its provisions would be left to the discretion of the Russian government.

Putin has been fiercely critical of U.S. measures toward Russian media, but he has not given wholehearted support to the draft legislation, saying at the weekend it “might be a little too harsh”.

BRANDED AS FOREIGN AGENTS

The draft legislation states that Russian authorities can designate foreign media as “foreign agents”, making them subject to the same requirements that are applied to foreign-funded non-governmental organizations under a 2012 law.

That law, heavily criticized by Western governments, was an attempt by Moscow to insulate itself from a wave of popular revolutions in eastern Europe and the Middle East. Moscow said they were fomented by Western governments using civil society groups as proxies.

Under the 2012 law, “foreign agents” have to include in any information they publish or broadcast to Russian audiences a mention of their “foreign agent” designation.

They also have to apply for inclusion in a government register, submit regular reports on their sources of funding, on their objectives, on how they spend their money, and who their managers are.

They can be subject to spot checks by the authorities to make sure they comply with the rules, according to the 2012 law.

Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.