Facebook’s political censorship

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

One month before the U.S midterm elections, Facebook deletes over 800 pages and accounts claiming they consistently displayed “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The 559 politically-oriented pages and 251 accounts were all American. Among the blocked pages are Nation in Distress, Right Wing News, Reasonable People Unite, and The Resistance.

Facebook explains this action in their official statement:

People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. It’s why we have a policy banning coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or Pages working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing. This year, we’ve enforced this policy against many Pages, Groups and accounts created to stir up political debate, including in the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK. But the bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behavior as our enforcement improves.

Although the First Amendment does not apply to private entities such as social media platforms, many of the owners of these pages claim unjust censorship. They contest Facebook’s silencing, claiming they were simply expressing political discourse and not infringing Facebook’s guidelines, according to the Guardian.

The Guidelines on censored hate speech are defined by Facebook as “a direct attack on people based on — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” They also define attack “as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.

The Pew Research Center demonstrates that, in the United States most social platform users are well aware of this online censorship linked to political agendas.

72 percent of the public thinks it is likely that social media platforms, such as Facebook, actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable.

« The study demonstrates slightly differing responses on censorship among political parties, with a majority of Republicans and Republican leaners (85%) believing it is likely that social media companies engage in this behavior, with 54 percent indicating they find it very likely. A smaller share of Democrats – though still a majority, at 62 percent – also think it likely that social media companies engage in this behavior.

Nevertheless, users are surprisingly accepting of  this censorship– even those residing in countries where freedom of speech is paramount. However,  the data also suggests that in places such as Europe many users support Facebook monitoring their speech if it for the right cause, such as protecting minorities or monitoring fake content.

Despite a growing mistrust of big institutions including technology companies and media outlets, most Facebook users say it is still benefiting them personally to be on the platform. 74 percent of Americans say tech companies have had a positive impact on their lives, and 65 percent feel they’ve had a positive impact on the nation as a whole.

The constant influx of information, from its’ 2.13 billion users, makes it certainly hard for Facebook to monitor all its content. However, the dilemma extends beyond this technological constraint. In giving a powerful company the power to decide what should be censored can easily silence voices that deserve to be heard.

In April 2018 users gained the ability to file an appeal if they believe their content has been unfairly removed. That appeal is then sent to a new human moderator, who will issue a decision within 24 hours. However, this did not help the 800+ pages claiming injustice this past November.

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

Eight whistleblowers prosecuted under the Obama administration: Where are they now?

Barack Obama is often criticized for waging a war against whistleblowers, but this may not be the entire truth. During the two terms Obama held office, eight whistleblowers were prosecuted, a number greater than those punished by the law under all U.S. presidential administrations combined. It is important to acknowledge that almost all of those whistleblowers were not dissenting against Obama, but rather challenged misconduct during the Bush administration. The Justice Department under Obama either did not stop pending criminal prosecutions, or initiated them. The eight whistleblowers were all accused of leaking or mishandling classified information under the Espionage Act.

The reason for the legal proceedings: a violation of the Espionage Act of 1917. Originally enacted to punish those seeking to interfere with war recruitment and funding, this act persists today in a much different context.

The Sedition Act of 1918, created an amendment and broadened the scope to certain forms of speech, including publications of “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the form of government in the United States, or the Constitution, or the military or naval forces.”

The Espionage Act was challenged in the courts throughout the decades for limiting freedom of speech, leading to its many revisions. Although rarely resurrected today, presidents such as Obama have utilized it to suppress dissidents they considered a threat to national security.

Tom Devine, the Legal Director at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the most prominent whistleblower support organization, explains the complexity of the issue. He classifies Obama’s relationship with whistleblowers as “schizophrenic” and says that in his field they often referred to his behavior as a battle of“Obama vs Obama,” because of his contradictory stances regarding informers.

Devine explains that Obama was “American whistleblowers’ best friend, all while seeking to tighten up national security through the Espionage Act.” The Legal Director adds that the former president has an “unusually broad deference to national security community.”

Although Obama took a surprisingly strong stance on national security, prosecuting individuals he deemed threatening to the U.S. government, he also aided in the protection of whistleblowers. He established a restriction of criminal charges for those who leaked classified information as opposed to those who simply released information opposing the government.

With his Presidential Policy Directive (PPD 19) Obama specifically protected whistleblower among intelligence agencies “to ensure that IC employees can effectively report instances of waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Chelsea Manning

The former Army Intelligence Analyst was charged with the largest leak in U.S history, through the famous whistleblower website WikiLeaks, publishing 700,000 diplomatic cables and military reports on both the Afghan and Iraq wars.

In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail but in 2017, President Obama significantly reduced Manning’s sentence to a total of 7 years. Manning was released on May 17, 2017 and remains very politically active.

She is now also a writer on war, gender, and freedom of information as a contributing opinion for The Guardian.

Edward Snowden

Snowden was charged with theft of government property and two counts of violating the Espionage Act. The computer professional and former CIA employee leaked documents revealing the American government was spying on its’ citizens.

Each of the three charges carries a maximum possible prison term of ten years. Snowden currently resides in Russia, in asylum, as he is still wanted by the U.S. government. He lives in a closely guarded location in Moscow.

Despite these limitations to his own free he is often credited for the “Snowden Effect” which started the much-needed conversation around individual privacy and national security.

Thomas Drake

The former senior executive at the National Security Agency violated the Espionage Act for the “willful retention” and “unauthorized disclosure” of classified documents.

Due to a plea agreement all charges were dropped, liberating him from any prison time. Drake was sentenced to one year of probation and 240 hours of community service.

Since his case, he has become an activist against the “surveillance state” arguing that the problems of the NSA are “so chronic and systemic that the only solution would be to completely dismantle and subsequently rebuild the entire organization.”

His location is unknown but he says he is now “devoted to defending life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This year Drake published a book titled Enemy of the State: How the U.S. Government Tried to Turn a Truth-teller Into a Traitor.”

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim

While working at the State Department as an adviser on nuclear proliferation, Jin-Woo Kim allegedly revealed that North Korea would conduct a nuclear bomb test to Fox News reporter James Rosen.

Entering a guilty plea to a single felony count of disclosing classified national defense information to an unauthorized person, he was sentenced to a 13-month prison term.

There have not been any updates on his life post-sentence.

James Hitselberger

A Navy contract linguist, working as an arabic translator in Bahrain, was prosecuted for “unauthorized retention of national defense information.” He allegedly released classified documents off the military base, discussing discrepancies in U.S. intelligence in Bahrain.

As there were no indications of espionage, Hitselberger was proposed a plea deal let off with a $250 fine. There are no available updates on his whereabouts since then.

John Kiriakou

The former CIA official was accused by the U.S. government for leaking classified information to journalists. More specifically he named two former colleagues who used waterboarding to torture detainees.

Originally facing up to 30 years in prison, when Kiriakou pleaded guilty and was only met with two and a half years of prison. As a part of the plea deal, the charges against him under the Espionage Act were annulled.

Now living in Virginia, Kiriakou is a writer and columnist exposing human rights abuses.

Shamai Leibowitz

Working for the FBI as a Hebrew translator, Leibowitz leaked over 200 pages of documents of transcribed wiretaps from conversations between the Israeli embassy in Washington and the blogger Richard Silverstein.

Pleading guilty, in 2010 he was sentenced to 20 months in prison. He now writes about science, music, Judaism and current events through his own blog. He also tutors pupils in mathematics.

Jeffrey Sterling

Former CIA officer Sterling charged with leaking classified information about U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen.

Although Sterling insists that his communications with Risen did not involve secret information he  convicted of espionage charges in 2015 with three and a half years of prison time.

He now works as a fraud investigator.

Devine explains that if we are comparing Obama with previous presidents, one must know that “more whistleblowers are being prosecuted, because the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act has made it much harder to fire employees, while neither it nor other US laws protect against retaliatory civil and criminal investigations and litigation.

Devine goes on to say that “harassment through a criminal case, especially by opening a criminal investigation, also is easier and less risky because agencies don’t have to deal with all the work of a lawsuit when they open a criminal investigation and give the wber the choice of resigning or risking indictment.

Also because “Opening a retaliatory criminal investigation is risk-free. Agencies can’t lose. The worst that will happen is they close the case, and then can open a new one soon after. I have numerous clients facing serial with-hunts.

Finally “If there is a chilling effect from the specter of unemployment, there is a freezing effect from the prospect of imprisonment.

When asked to predict the whistleblowers and their fate under the Trump administration Devine stated he is “not optimistic on the president’s intolerance for criticism” and believes that whistleblowers who plan on exposing his abuses of power will be met with harsh consequences.  

“I need to rebuild myself. But I need to continue my work for Syria.”

« I would like you to mention it in the portrait as the « syrian revolution », it was not a « civil war » or a « movement », we have to call it as what it was: a revolution. »

Hasan, a detached look in the eyes, a wristband to the colors of the Free Syrian Army, is struggling to remember of any independent journal: “At least, I am certain that there no media covering of what happened in the country.” In February 2011, Hasan is 21, he is living in Douma in the east suburb of Damas. While he is finishing a tourism degree at university, the still nascent Arab revolutions, found an echo in the syrian social medias.

The next month, protests where organizing on Internet, in the streets only a few hundreds of demonstrators but the repression is severe. Yet the feeble processions of the beginning where increasing from a week to another, the repression cements the protest and the social medias do the rest. Hasan feel the need to cover the events “To show what is really happening there.” He starts with other journalists activists filming the gatherings and posting the videos on Facebook or Youtube in the evening. In the protestations, cameras were prohibited and impound by the mukhabarats (regime secret services) but impossible to prohibit smartphones.

Photo prise par Hasan pour l’AFP

From 2012, slaughters and tortures committed by the regime forces and its militias seal the fate of the country: dozens of thousands have been marching, despite the threats, in the streets of Damascus.  »Bashar must leave », it will be a revolution. During the summer, the government lost  control, the siege formed. Three areas controlled by various revolutionary groups appear, Douma will be the last city held by the rebels 8 years later.

Once the Ghouta isolated, tap water has been quickly cut by the regime. In order to assure the needs of the population, the solution was to collect soil water by some holes 40 to 60 meters deep in the ground. “To pump the water, we used engines but soon it the energy ran out as well. Drawing water manually was not enough, then we began using all the energy sources we could find: plastic bags, cooking oil and even margarine.

Hasan joined in 2013 the Douma hospital team, he photographed the wounded, including many children, and the surgeries. The suburb hospital transformed into a war hospital and organized in services. A day of April, wounded persons came with unusual symptoms, eyes cornea and respiratory mucosa burnt, suffocation, nausea and vomiting: Bashar al-Assad experiment the chlorine gas and sarin gas on the rebel populations. (1) Following the chemical attack of April 2013, international medias started to take interest on the Douma.

Between 2011 and 2013, it is at least 110 actors of the information that have been killed in the conflict according to a report of Reporters without borders. (2) Facing the happening, international medias decided to stop sending reporters on the field. The AFP then launch a program named  »Citizen journalists », the objective is to recruit and form syrian photojournalists from the Beirut bureau.

Hasan is contacted later after a bombing in a market of Douma in August 2015, the AFP provides a camera and give him a training on photojournalism by Internet. (3) From this moment, Hasan photographies began to illustrate French medias tackling the casualty assessments of the life in Douma.

In November 2017, bombing become randoms and unpredictable.

The regime wages us a physic and psychologic war, you are never in peace, never safe. At this time, we could only live in the basements”.

A shell fell, the rescue come to extract the victims from the rubble, then a few minutes later, a second detonation, a new strike, targeting this time the rescue.

In February 2018, the noose is tightening around Douma, the bombing intensify again. The towns of  Mesraba and Harasta fall. People flee the city. “The regime wanted a total evacuation. If we stayed, it would be the prisons of the regime that awaited us.

In April, Hasan left his native region to Idlib and then take the direction of Turkey. For ten attempts, he tried to cross the Turkish border, and at the tenth he managed finally to smuggle avoiding the Turkish border guards.

I had no bearings, no emotions, I could not watch any videos from Syria. With my syrian passport, I was nobody.

It is the AFP that suggested him an exile to France. The travel without any money or help took 11 months to Hasan. Now he wishes to resume studies in journalism, in France, far away from Syria.

« In November 2017, bombing become randoms and unpredictable. “The regime wages us a physic and psychologic war, you are never in peace, never safe. At this time, we could only live in the basements

A shell fell, the rescue come to extract the victims from the rubble, then a few minutes later, a second detonation, a new strike, targeting this time the rescue. »

Afghanistan: another deadly Year for Journalists in 2019

Within the first six months of 2019, Afghanistan has lost six of its journalists in separate incidents, the first death of a journalist was recorded by RSF in Afghanistan this year.

35 cases of violence against journalists and media staff were recorded by Nai, supporting open media in Afghanistan which includes 5 cases of murder, 6 injuries, 17 cases of threats and insults, 3 cases of attacks on media, 3 cases of beating, and 1 case of IED explosion.


Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.


Recently the Taliban terrorist group issued new threats to media outlets in Afghanistan, demanding an immediate halt to publications of pro-government advertisements.

Working as a journalist in war-torn Afghanistan is not easy and safety is an increasing concern for journalists around the country.

The Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) were involved in crimes against humanity and are the most responsible for the attacks on journalists and media staff in Afghanistan. They targeted journalists, aimed to silence press freedom and incite fear among the people.

January

Afghan Journalist Javid Noori

Javid Noori was the first journalist in the world killed in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters on January 5th, 2019.

He was killed when the Taliban searched a bus he was on at a roadblock in the western Frarah province of Afghanistan. Only 27 years old, Javid Noori worked for Neshat Radio in the western Farah province of Afghanistan.

February

Local journalists Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani

In February, two other radio journalists were shot and killed in the northern Takhar province of Afghanistan.

Shafiqullah Arya and Rahimullah Rahmani were shot and killed by two unidentified men who entered Radio Hamsada’s office, a local radio station based in Taloqan city in northeastern Afghanistan. They were killed during a live program.

March

View of Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwas tomb in Southern Khost province of Afghanistan

Sultan Mahmood Khairkhwa, local Afghan journalist of Zhman TV died from complications after being shot in head by ISIS gunmen in the southern Khost city of Afghanistan on March 15th.

More violence against journalists this month was seriously wounded Nisar Ahmad Ahmadi. Ahmadi the local Afghan journalist was on his way to his office when an IED bomb that was embedded in his car, detonated in Lashkargah city of Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan.

He worked with Helmand based Sabawoon TV in Afghanistan.

April

More bad news for journalists this month, a gunmen attacked radio journalist, Imran Lemar. Lemar worked at Mazal radio and was shot & injured by an unknown gunman in the eastern Jalalabad city of Afghanistan on April 25th.

Also in April, the 1TV Editor-in-Chief, Abdullah Khenjani was beaten by a presidential protection guard in Kabul city.

May

Meena Mangal presenting TV show in local TV in Kabul

Tragic news in May for the family of female Afghan journalist, Meena Mangal who was shot dead Kabul, the capital city by unknown gunmen.

Meena Mangal was shot dead in public on May 11th while she was on her way to work in Kabul. Her family wants justice from the government.

Leaders from around the world like Justin Trudeau commended Meena Mangal’s journalistic integrity and her advocacy for women and girls while condemning the violence that ended her life.

She worked at Tolo TV, the largest private broadcaster in Afghanistan, as well as Shamshad and Lemar television stations.

She had also recently become a cultural adviser to the lower chamber of Afghanistan’s national parliament.

July

AFJC Shaki Baluch

According to the Afghan media, Shaki Baluch, a local journalist of National broadcaster (RTA) killed in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan by unknown gunmen in the month of July and also seven employees of local Shamshad TV stations were wounded in an attack in the capital of the country.

Moreover, recently Taliban insurgents issued new threats against Afghan media which sparks Global Reaction. Unfortunately, murder cases are just the most extreme violences against journalists but other violences remain prevalent including: kidnapping, beating, injuring, insulting and humiliating journalists.

The Afghan government has made repeated commitments to ensure the protection of journalists and journalistic protection institutions have repeatedly asked the government to protect journalists. But challenges remain for journalist’s safety today. RSF recognized Afghanistan as the deadliest country for journalists in the world. 15 journalists were killed in 2018.

« A good journalist is someone who serves his community »

TESTIMONY FROM A MARITUANIAN JOURNALIST


« A good journalist is someone who serves his community. Serving others through my journalistic work, that is my vocation. »

This is the story of MBG, Marituanian journalist fighting against injustice.


« Within me, there is an innate sense of justice. That which scares me the most is neither death nor pain, but it is to see someone living in poverty without being able to do anything to help them. Justice is universal, it does not have a skin color, ethnicity, or religion. »

MBG arrived in France from Marituania in April 2018, leaving behind a large family, a mother constantly in grief, and a fishing community that his father also left.

« I have just over an hour » he started with just before the start of his interview for « La Maison des Journalistes » « I don’t want to be late for morning prayers » In fact, he confides in us that he is very religious. He wears a traditional robe ordinate with orange patterns and his eyes, black like carbon, often look towards the horizon: maybe towards his mother or his father or towards memories of fishing with his father.

The fact that his roots are elsewhere do not inhibit him from perfectly integrating himself into the small community at « La Maison des Journalistes ». He is often seen strolling through the halls of the building and he knows almost all of the residents, with whom he exchanges confidences and pleasant jokes. He speaks with a low and calm voice, his temperment is proud, open and dignified.

MBG’s Journalist Life in Africa

Insults, persecution, threats: MBG’s daily life in Marituania was not easy. « As a journalist, I am always fixated on a single objective: the truth. The intimidations never bothered me. When I worked in Marituania as a journalist, first on the radio, and later at the television, I always thought of my father. I have my education and career thanks to my father.

The fourth child in a large family, MBG confesses that he always had a privleged relationship with his father. « He gave me responsabilities very early, and when there was a problem at the house he always said « Ask MBG, he will know what to do. »

MBG explqins that the lifestyle in Africa rests entirely on the present. « The philosophy is not to have a bank account, but to respond to the needs of the family today, in the present. In Africa, we’re not overly concerned with the future, all that matters, is the ability to eat and get dressed today. »

In 1989, MBG was just a child when his family was deported to Senegal. In fact, in Marituania there was and still remains a system of apartheid, where the white minority persecutes and send the black majority to exile. « In Marituania, mixed marriages are not allowed, whites have the right to all that is better and for the blacks all the worst remains. They stole my childhood, he bitterly testified.

A Journalistic Career Marked by Engagement with the Truth

Shortly after the death of his father in 2011, MBG returns to Marituania and starts to work first as a rapper, then as a radio host, finally as a journalist next to Nouakchott radio – a broadcast news station from Nouakchott,Maritunia

In 2004, he was employed at a presenter for Sahel TV, a private television channel. He hosted a show called Union Trade « I invited all of the communities, black and white, people from the majority and opposition and I asked them sensitive questions about racism, slavery, the absence of Human Righs in Marituania and the exploitation of politics and religion. »

MBG resigns from Sahel TV when the TV director of the television station stopped him from inviting the political dissident Samba Thiam, former party head of the opposition of FPC, (Progressive Forces for Change – an organization against racism from the state and slavery in Marituania in hopes of a democratic, equal, and non-racist Marituania) returning from 20 years of exile in Senegal. « I resigned for a question of principal. The director accused me of being an « inflamist » but I was only doing my job. »

After the experience at Sahel TV, MBG finds himself without a job and without money and must leave for Senegal, where he only stays for a few months.

In returning from Marituania at the end of 2015, he starts to work for Chinguitt TV , another private television station, leading the french department. Also here, the problems and critics come quickly. « The director called me often to tell me that I should pay attention, that I spoke of too sensitive subjects, that I risked  destabilizing my country because of my shows and that if I continue, the state could have to close the station, that is what happened. »

But MBG declared having always followed a sole objective: the truth. « For all the rest, I do not care, the work of a journalist is to inform and to tell things the way that they are, I was never scared of the the other people or of the threats that I constantly received. »

Threats and Persecutions

In 2016, MBG went as a reporter at protest of militants against slavery. « I was at the tribunal to report and first I was insulted and then beaten by the police. They knew that I was a journalist et they wanted to scare me. In Marituania, the police are extremely corrupt. »

Threats, persecutions, insultes are unfortunately on the daily agenda for MBG. One day, when he was in Kaédi, a city situated a few kilometers from the capital, he was stopped by the police who demanded him to open his bag. At first, MBG refused to obey, but is bag was taken with force. « Inside, there was only my work tools, my recording device, my headphones, and my USB drive. One of the white police officers, took drugs out of his pockets and threatened me by saying that he found it in my bag.

A Sole Vocation: Serving Others

After this time, MBG knows that he is constantly in danger. In February 2018, he was the only journalist invited to a conference of the African Bank of Developpment of the Ivory Coast. At this time, he gives a speech to denounce certains practices of Marituanian leaders, the lack of solidarity surrounding Marituania, touched by the problems from racism and slavery.

Returning back from his trip, he receives new threats from the police. « At this time, also under pressure from my mother who can no longer sleep at night, I realized that I must leave. When your honor and your dignity are touched, you have two choices: to stay and suffer, or to protect yourself and leave. I never wanted to bend my head around anyone and I had to leave Marituania, in a certain sense to continue to serve and do my job independently.

« My dream? Is to serve people. For me, nothing is more noble than the acting of serving someone else. « 

Today, MBG lives at the Maison des Journalistes, but is it certain that one that he will return to his country where he will live with his whole family. Today, MBG writes articles in french for l’Oeil de la Maison des Journalistes.

Memories

« I remember conversations with my grandmother, a women whom I have lots of respect for. Today, she is 100 years old. »

When I was in Marituania, she encouraged me to continue my journalistic work, and to not give up. For me, there hasn’t been more satisfaction than when the elderly see me and say « I am familiar with your work, I pray for you. »

I have a lot of respect for the elderly. Still today, when I am on the Metro in Paris, I always give them my seat on the train.

The New York Time’s Cartoon Suppression Sparks Worry

The news that shook the world’s largest daily newspaper, the New York Times International. After one month of controversy following an image deemed antisemitic, starting July 1st, there will no longer be political cartoons in the newspaper’s opinion section. This decision foreshadows a complicated future for newspaper cartoonists.


A single stroke of the pen was enough to unleash a worldwide controversy.


In the April 27th issue, there is an an image of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, depicted as a dog with a star of David around his neck. Behind him, the American president, Donald Trump, is shown blind holding the « dogs » leash with a yamaca on his head.

After public outcry, the New York Times appoliogized in a letter, calling it an « error of judgement ». A justification that convinced neither American not Israeli medias.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States addressed the journal and stated « Today, the New York Times has made these pages a dream for those who hate the Jewish State. » He declared in Washington on April 29th.

The journals publication director, A.G. Sulzberger, launched a disciplinary procedure against the editor who chose this image. He also decided to no longer use cartoons coming from an outside company. (The images deemed to be antisemitic came from an outside company.)

From the White House, Donald Trump was offended for not being cited in the newspapers letter of appology. Finally, the New York Times surrendered to social media pressure and announced the end of its cartoon pages

Is freedom of opinion being threatened?

New York Times International will only be remove cartoons from the opinion section. They will not remove cartoons from from the entire newspaper.

Press cartoons are bought, sometimes in an image bank like the image by Antonio Moriera  that started the controversy. Patrick Chappatte, artist from the New York Times expressed his disappointment on his blog following this announcement.

« In these past few years, some of the best newspaper cartoonists in the US (…) have lots their jobs because their editors found them too critical of Trump (…) Maybe we should start to worry. And revolt. The newspaper cartoonists were born with democracy and when these freedoms are threatened, they are too » he condemned on his blog.

Interviewed by France Inter, Plantu declared that he is « worried for the future of our democracies and for freedom of opinion. » The artists of the world are outraged to see a journal as prestigious as the New York Times succumb to pressure from social media. « If it is pleasing to all, the freedom of the artists is going to be reduced (but that is secondary), but it is freedom of journalists, freedom of citizens and freedom of opinion that is going to fall apart. »

For Terry Anderson, illustrator and general director of Cartoonist Rights Network International, « It is undeniable that the decision from the New York Times is apart of a worldwide trend and continues to reduce the public space for cartoonists. […] This is why we whole-heartedly condemn it.

Antonio Moreira Antunes

Freedom of expression has already been previously attacked.

Antonio Moriera Antunes, author of controversial cartoon has been regularly published in Portuguese magazines and journals since 1975. This is not the artist’s first controversy, in 1992, he published a cartoon in Expresso (Portugese newspaper) that became famous and hotly contested: Pope Jean-Paul II represented with a condom on this nose. This image was put on a petition signed by 15,000 of the Portugese demanding for censorship of this cartoonist.

Charlie Hebdo

Known for its provocative images & its quirky and satirical humor, Charlie Hebdo provoked many national controversies regarding freedom of the press and opinion. In 2006, Charlie Hebdo published Danish cartoons (from the Jyllands-Posten Journal) of the prophet Muhammad. The Union of Islamic Organizations of France and The Grand Mosque of Paris started a penalty procedure against Charlie Hebdo for « slander published against a group of people due to their religion. »

Charlie Hebdo became the target of numerous amounts of threats from radical Islamists following this controversy. On January 7th, 2015, the editoral board was targeted with an attack killing 12 people, including some of the most famous artists: Cabu, Charb, Wolinsky and Tignous.

Alex

Most recently, the newspaper cartoonist, Alex was a received of death threats following the January publication of a cartoon  in « Le Courrier Picard ». The image mocked Eric Drouet, a controversial figure from the Yellow Vest Movement, caricatured as a small yellow bird being hunted by Jean-Luc Mélenchon (a French politician from the National Assembly).

« There are people, journalists but other also who knock and demolish » recalled Alex, who is worried about both the current social climate in France and the anti-media hate that has been proliferating.