07:31 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Australian criminal lawyer Melinda Taylor speaks during a press conference on the 10th anniversary of the online leaking platform WikiLeaks on October 4, 2016 in Berlin.

    Assange Lawyer Criticizes US Media Restrictive Bill Attempt

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    The US draft legislation changing the requirements for registration of foreign agents amounts to an uncovered act of halting any external unbiased criticism of policies carried out by Washington, Melinda Taylor, who led the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, told Sputnik on Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier this week, US Congressmen David Cicilline and Matthew Gaetz introduced legislation, called The Foreign Agents Registration Modernization and Enforcement Act, which would provide the US Department of Justice with "the increased investigative authority to identify and prosecute entities that seek to unlawfully influence the political process." The legislation is specifically targeting such media outlets, as the RT broadcaster, obliging them to register as foreign agents and report their activity to the Department of Justice. The bill comes as response to foreign media coverage of WikiLeaks revelations that came during former US Democratic Party nominee Hilary Clinton’s presidential race.

    "Rather than being beholden (allegedly) to a foreign state, the media outlet in question will be indisputably beholden to the United States. This is simply a dressed up attempt to curb external and objective commentary and critique of US activities," Taylor said.

    Taylor added that while the United States "consistently promoted the importance of allowing access to foreign media as a bulwark against autocratic and repressive regimes," the proposed legislation would breach press freedom and constitute Washington’s pivot to repressive policies.

    "The proposed bill fundamentally misconceives the role of the media, and constitutes an attack on press freedoms and independence. If the premise of the bill is accepted – that close contacts between the media and particular states are a threat to press freedom – then the solution, which is to require certain media outlets to report to the US department of Justice – will serve to exacerbate rather than solve the problem," the lawyer argued.

    Taylor pointed out that the proposed US draft legislation, which requires the foreign media covering WikiLeaks revelations among other things, to report activities to the US Department of Justice may undermine the US democracy and hinder access to accurate and transparent information.

    "Wikileaks has a 100% accuracy record; it publishes the truth, which is itself the most effective weapon against propaganda and fake news. It is therefore, completely spurious logic to attempt to curb propaganda by restricting the activities of certain media outlets, due to their reportage of Wikileaks and Wikileaks publications. By the same token, whistleblowers promote the democratic process by disseminating relevant information which allows the public to make an informed choice as to whom to elect. Measures which are designed to stifle related publications will only stifle democratic choice, transparency and accountability," Taylor said.

    The lawyer also highlighted that the proposed bill would undermine the work of US correspondents working abroad.

    Russian media outlets broadcasting in Europe and the United States have been facing a barrage of accusations by Western officials about allegedly spreading fake news and attempting to influence public life. In the United States, intelligence community has claimed Russia used its media outlets to swing the outcome of US November presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, but have not provided any evidence to back their claims.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials have repeatedly stated that Moscow refrains from meddling in internal affairs of foreign countries.


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