21:06 GMT29 November 2020
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    The blocking of RT's bank accounts is nothing but a crackdown on freedom of speech, Steve Topple, independent journalist and commentator, told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Steve Topple, independent journalist and commentator, lashed out at the blocking of the accounts of the RT broadcaster in the United Kingdom which he slammed as a crackdown on freedom of speech.

    The interview came as Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said on Monday that the RT broadcaster's accounts have been blocked in Britain.

    "The decision is not subject to revision'. Long live freedom of speech!" Simonyan wrote in her Twitter page.

    She was echoed by Steve Topple who minced no words when commenting on the matter.

    "This is a basic crackdown on freedom of speech. If RT UK incited terrorism or cultural violence, the blocking of its bank accounts could have been understandable," he said.

    In this vein, he pointed to the UK's current bad record of press  freedom, saying that among such countries as Latvia, Ghana and Uruguay in terms of backsliding on human rights.

    Citing anti-Russian feeling in the UK, Topple did not rule out that the move is part of the West's efforts to contain Russia in Syria.

    "It looks like another stage in a propaganda war between the two sides," he pointed out.

    Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on the issue by saying that London has seemingly abandoned all of its freedom of speech obligations.

    According to RT UK, National Westminster Bank said its parent organization Royal Bank of Scotland Group would refuse to service the broadcaster and was "not prepared to enter into any discussion."

    Earlier, a member of the Russian Lower House's International Affairs Committee told Sputnik that Russian lawmakers will demand an explanation from UK authorities over the actions.

    "We will also demand that international organizations, including the United Nations and the Council of Europe, clarify their stance on the issue," Sergey Zheleznyak said.

    Simonyan, for her part, said that the blocking of the accounts of the RT broadcaster in the United Kingdom will not lead to the company halting its operations in the country.

    Following Simonyan's statement on Twitter earlier in the day, RT UK said it had been informed by National Westminster Bank that it "will no longer provide" banking arrangements for the broadcaster.

    RT operates a number of cable and satellite television channels in a multiple languages and is directed at a foreign audience. The channels provide 24-hour news coverage, as well as airing documentaries, talk shows and debates.


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    bank account, freedom of speech, terrorism, violence, human rights, crackdown, RT, Britain, Russia
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