In response to the June 18th suspension of the Twitter accounts of classconscious.org (@classconscious1) and PhillipAdams (@Phillip Adams64) on June 18th, the Bay Area Free Assange Committee has announced a protest at Twitter HQ in San Francisco on Monday July 8th at 4PM. The protest demands an end to the censorship and the increasing move to censor pro-Assange accounts and protests on Twitter and Facebook.
As Julian languishes in Belmarsh Prison, the US Government and other governments conspiring to persecute him are well aware of the growing support for him around the world. It is in this context that moves are being made to sabotage the growth of this global movement.
On June 18th, the Twitter accounts of Phillip Adams (@PhillipAdams64) and classconscious.org (@ClassConscious1) were suspended without warning or justification.
The account of Phillip Adams had just tweeted that the change.org petition he began and manages had reached 150,000 signatures. This petition has become a powerful representation of the mass support for Assange.
The suspension of the classconscious.org Twitter account came hours after it had tweeted out numerous tweets linking to its article covering the global solidarity protests occurring between the 12th and 14th June – called out by classconscious.org to coincide with Assange’s most recent extradition hearing in London. The photo in these tweets shows the unprovoked, violent police arrests of two peaceful Assange demonstrators at the Melbourne June 14th protest outside the UK consulate. This intensified repression of the Assange/Manning campaign in real life is being mirrored online.
Classconscious.org after appealing their suspension was informed they had repeatedly broken Twitter’s rules but were not told which rules were broken and no specific tweets were referred to. This is a complete abrogation of due process. Phillip Adams is yet to receive any communication from Twitter justifying his suspensions.
Subsequent to these suspensions, other incidents of Twitter censorship include the suppressing of the sharing of tweets promoting the #Candles4Assange international actions to mark Julian Assanges 48th Birthday on 3rd July. Facebook also recently suppressed an advertisement for a public meeting of the PES, Socialist Equality Party in France. Other pro-Assange accounts report their follower list being purged by Twitter.
A line must therefore be drawn in the sand. We cannot allow pro-Assange Twitter accounts to be picked off a few at a time. If the banning of the classconscious.org and Phillip Adams’ accounts on the same day is part of an escalating purge of pro-Assange accounts by Twitter, then it poses an existential threat to this international campaign. It is not hard to imagine if these suspensions are allowed to stand, that, in the future crucial months of the battle to save the lives of Assange and Manning, more will soon follow. This targeted censorship will inevitably ensnare higher profile accounts, even @Wikileaks itself.
Just last week the high profile account of award winning US journalist Barrett Brown, and his associated organisation Pursuance, were suspended by Twitter. Barrett served time for his role in helping to publish information on the Stratfor leaks, (published on Wikileaks) which shed light on the way private security firms work with government to repress dissent. Twitter suspended Brown after he was reported by a far-right account which targetted Brown for exposing the role of private firms in the atrocities being committed in US migrant concentration camps and by ICE.
Brown was also accused of breaking Twitter’s rules, but they reversed the decision after a public outcry. The whole episode demonstrates how the seemingly neutral rules of Twitter are applied selectively and highly politically to remove high profile left-wing voices from the public sphere.
Free speech is needed to win this free speech campaign! We cannot allow such censorship to become the “new normal”. It must be politically confronted at every turn and exposed. Solidarity must be shown to all targets of this censorship by the broader campaign defending Assange.
So much of the international campaign to free Assange and Manning is organised online and via social media and, therefore, crucial to the task of building the global protests that will be necessary to free them both. However, the close cooperation, indeed the integration, of the corporate social media giants (Facebook, Google and Twitter) with the US military/intelligence complex poses a direct threat to the efforts to free Assange and Manning, and to free speech in general.
UPDATE JULY 1ST – @PhillipAdams64 account has been restored – @classconsious1 still suspended – Read full details here
Classconsciuos.org calls on all defenders of Free Speech to endorse and support the protest of the Bay Area Free Assange Committee (BAFAC). Please send statements of endorsements to BAFAC via their Facebook or Twitter page.
Individuals and organisations can also add their name to the Open Letter published by classconcsious.org to demand the reinstatements of @classconcsious1 and @PhillipAdams64 and all censorship of pro-Assange activity on social media.