Tag Archives: Persecuting journalists

UK Bill Threatens Journalists With Life in Prison, by Mohamed Elmaazi

Real journalists, like Julian Assange, are almost always a government’s worst enemy. From Mohamed Elmaazi at consortiumnews.com:

ournalists and publishers could face life sentences if National Security Bill 2022, being debated in the U.K. Parliament, becomes law, reports Mohamed Elmaazi.

Assange supporters marching on Parliament, February 2020. (Joe Lauria)

The British Parliament is debating a national security bill which could undermine the basis of national security reporting and ultimately throw journalists in jail for life.

A person convicted under the new offense of “obtaining or disclosing protected information,” defined in Section 1 of National Security Bill 2022, faces a fine, life imprisonment, or both, if convicted following a jury trial.

A review of the parliamentary debate on the bill makes clear that work by press outlets such as WikiLeaks is at the heart of Tory and Labour MPs’ thinking as they push to make the bill law.

As currently written, direct-action protests, such as those conducted by Palestine Action against U.K.-based Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd, could also be captured under the offences of “sabotage” and entering “prohibited places” sections of the bill.

Whistleblowers, journalists and publishers focusing on national security related matters may be most at risk of being prosecuted, though any person who “copies,” “retains,” “discloses,” “distributes” or “provides access to” so called protected information could be prosecuted.

“Protected information” is defined as any “restricted material” and it need not even be classified.

Under this bill, leakers, whistleblowers, journalists or everyday members of the public, face a potential life sentence if they receive or share “protected information” which is widely defined.

That does not mean “up to” a life sentence. Following a conviction, a judge would have the option to either issue a fine or hand down a life sentence, or both.

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