George Clooney Foundation to seek arrest of Russian propagandists in Europe

George Clooney Foundation

The George Clooney Foundation for Justice announced efforts to bring Russian propaganda employees to justice. Unlike the military and politicians, the actors of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine travel freely in Western countries and even have residence permits in Western countries. 

Source. This was stated by Director of Legal Affairs at the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Docket project in an interview with the Voice of America by Anna Neistat.

“We are focused on bringing to justice the most obvious Russian propagandists, the most visible ones, but I will deliberately not name them because we ask prosecutors to issue gag orders,” she said.

Russian propagandists are free to travel around Europe – Neistat

Neistat said that Russian propagandists are free to travel around Europe, have residence permits, relatives, and property in foreign countries, and can be detained on the basis of a warrant in Europol member states.

“That is, in any European country, in theory, they can be arrested and extradited to a country that is investigating a criminal case against them under the same universal jurisdiction,” the lawyer said.

Russian false terms, from “Kyiv’s Nazi regime”, “Maidan coup d’état”, to “secret biolabs in Ukraine” and “de-Ukrainization,” were introduced into the minds of Russians and even people in the EU countries by Russian propaganda media for many years.

The Russian disinformation machine of the state and state-loyal media in Russia, in the opinion of many, has fully prepared most of Russian society to accept Putin’s regime decision to openly invade the territory of a neighboring sovereign state and commit war crimes there. 

The Clooney Foundation for Justice says on its website: “CFJ now works in more than 40 countries. We are actively investigating war crimes in Ukraine, monitoring sham trials targeting women and journalists and fighting against a global trend of authoritarianism that seeks to punish those who speak truth to power.”

War propaganda in European countries’ criminal codes

Anna Neistat explained that the Docket project collects evidence of ‘war crimes and genocide’ and then passes this information on to European prosecutors and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The project operates in Ukraine, Iraq, and Venezuela.

“A more practical way is to charge them with war propaganda. This is a crime that still exists in several European countries’ criminal codes. The articles’ construction is quite interesting, but the crime itself is very simple, simpler than incitement to genocide: it is literally propaganda for war. Sometimes the article sounds like “propaganda of an aggressive war,” and in some countries, these definitions are supplemented by “dissemination of false and biased information that led to the creation of an atmosphere conducive to the outbreak of war.” These countries have never prosecuted this method, which presents a significant challenge. Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, and several other countries have included this article in their criminal codes, but they have never used it.”

Anna Neistat, Director of Legal Affairs at the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Docket project

Russia declared war on ‘mediocre actor’ George Clooney

Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian TV host and Putin’s propaganda mouthpiece, called the foundation’s statement ‘unacceptable’: “Threats against journalists, let alone reprisals against our colleagues, are absolutely unacceptable. Clooney and his wife can invent all sorts of nasty things, but their dreams are unlikely to come true,” Solovyov said.

Russia stated that ‘mediocre actor’ George Clooney should watch his back. Russian security council head Dmitry Medvedev took issue with Clooney’s Foundation for Justice, tweeting that Hollywood star wants to “use his Foundation to hunt down Russian journalists all over the world and persecute them.”” But according to Medvedev, Clooney won’t be able to do so because Russian journalists will “find him first.”

“A certain mediocre actor called George Clooney has decided to use his Foundation to hunt down Russian journalists all over the world and persecute them. The effort would be wasted, however: our professional journalists will find him first. They are very attentive and highly,” Medvedev wrote.

Russian state news agency TASS reported that the foundation is encouraging EU countries to penalize Russian journalists who report positive coverage of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine as promoting “war propaganda.”

Ban on Russian propaganda media in the EU

Russia’s main state propaganda platforms, the multilingual channels RT and Sputnik, are under sanctions in Europe. In early March 2022, following the start of Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine, the EU banned Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik in the European Union for systematic disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The sanction means EU operators are prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating, or contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content.

However, over two years after the EU ban was introduced, Russia’s RT and Sputnik are Still Accessible across the EU, and even without using a VPN, according to Radio Liberty. Videos, text, and other information prepared by Russian propaganda to please the dictator Putin are available in Brussels in English, French, German, Serbian, Spanish, and Arabic on RT and Sputnik, the outlet reported.

Our own research showed that the RT content is permanently copied to many domains which are not banned. For instance, the German version is available not only on de.rt.com, but also on rtde.live and rtde.site. It seems that there is no mechanism in place to swiftly prohibit or suspend new domains of Russian propaganda machine.

Voice of Europe case and pro-Russian media in Europe

In May, the EU banned four more Russian media outlets from broadcasting in the European Union for the spread of propaganda about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and disinformation. The latest batch of Russian outlets consists of the Prague-based multilingual platform Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestia and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which Brussels claims are all under control of the Kremlin. The EU said in a statement that these Russian media are targeting “European political parties, especially during election periods.”

In April, Belgium launched an investigation into suspected Russian interference in June’s European Parliament elections, saying that Belgian intelligence service confirmed the existence of a Russian network trying to influence public opinion and undermine support for Ukraine.

In the Voice of Europe case we have seen that Moscow attempts using EU-registered news websites disguised as neutral or alternative to legitimize Russian propaganda narratives and increase the credibility of its statements, as almost no one in the world believes Russian state propaganda outlets like RT and Sputnik anymore.

We published our researches on which websites are spreading pro-Russian narratives in Germany, top-40 pro-Russian media outlets in France, and the websites that quoted the pro-Russian platform Voice of Europe. We have identified publications that quoted Russian state media, received backlinks from them, and spread claims that support Kremlin narratives in the West. We also identified top fakes spread by pro-Russian media in Europe and top Putin’s lies and fakes in the interview with Tucker Carlson.

In February, French analysts discovered Portal Kombat, a Russian propaganda network that aims to weaken Western support for Ukraine through sharing disinformation stories for European audiences. The Putin’s administration presumably manages the network directly, Le Figaro reported.

Bloomberg reported that France is requesting that the EU implement new measures to target Russian disinformation and electoral meddling globally. The Paris’ plan would enable the EU to impose more severe sanctions on people and organizations engaged in Russian-sponsored destabilizing actions around the world. 

The Clooney Foundation for Justice was founded in 2016 by Hollywood actor George Clooney and his wife, lawyer Amal Clooney. The organization’s goal is to fight for human rights. The Foundation works in more than 40 countries.

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