is Free and investigative Journalism in danger?

I live in a country, Italy, where journalism is not a synonymous of freedom, objectivity or courage. In the past we have had great journalists able to put their life at the service of a profession that require total dedication, but today the market offer really a few example of journalism, most are just “the voice of the boss” as mr. Sallusti or mr. Belpietrto.

I always seen that outside there were great journalists, free and brave ones. Journalists able to fight and find scandals or inconvenient truths, and this was accepted and even defended by their governments who considered free press just an asset for democracy.

Now I’m afraid this world is slowly vanishing, journalists are not free to tell us the inconvenient truth, and the tools to do their work is in danger. What I’m talking about?

Recently i’ve seen how can be dangerous to be a journalist in western countries. I’m thinking of Barret Brown, for example, but also to Glenn Greenwald. It’s ironic that the countries that have always claimed the right to free speech, USA and UK, are now the worst place to be a free journalist.

You think I’m wrong? Barret Brown is risking 100 years in jail. I know there are people claiming he is not a journalist, he is crazy, he is guilty because worked FOR Anonymous and other things I’ve read in Blogs, but the truth is that he is risking his freedom to  have wrote an article and a tweet.

Barrett Brown is now facing his third round of charges. The first was for threatening an FBI agent on Twitter; the second involved ‘trafficking’ by making available an URL; and this third is for concealing evidence.

Barrett Brown is the one-time self-proclaimed voice of Anonymous. He has not been accused of taking part in Anonymous hacks, but is clearly a thorn in the side of authority. The previous indictment in December 2012 included 12 charges relating to Brown trafficking in stolen credit card details (from the Stratfor hack) by publicizing an URL that was already public knowledge on the internet.

The latest indictment, dated January 23, 2013, contains two counts – Obstruction: Concealment of Evidence; and Obstruction: Corruptly Concealing Evidence. The gist of the accusation is that he hid two laptops and their content “prior to the execution of a search warrant… said search warrant having been issued by a United States Magistrate Judge” (count 1); and that he “did knowingly and corruptly conceal and attempt to conceal records, documents, and digital data contained on two laptop computers” (count 2).

The obstruction and concealment was not very successful. Brown’s lawyer, Jay Leiderman, commented, “they got them with some reasonable ease. This was not a mastermind of hiding things. Which makes these charges all the more absurd and unnecessary.”

There are some parallels to the Aaron Swartz case, another activist who killed himself earlier this month. “I would have thought in the wake of Aaron Swartz that the government might have learned something and might have thought twice about bringing the weight of the entire United States down upon someone when it wasn’t warranted,” says Leiderman. This indictment alone adds a potential further 20 years prison term to the earlier indictments.

“Clearly they’re more worried about what they perceive as his egging people on to go after defense contractors and secret spy organizations,” said Leiderman. “Barrett believes in privacy for individuals and transparency for corporations and government. The government doesn’t like his belief system. And Barrett was effective in expressing that belief system.”

And what about Glenn Greenwald who is a journalist  for the Guardian, which his life mate, david miranda, has been threatened 9 hours by UK police as a terrorist because…. Glenn Greenwald was the journalist that worked with Snowden.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals. Those stopped have no right to legal advice and it is a criminal offence to refuse to cooperate with questioning under schedule 7.

The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last less than an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

Miranda was released, but officials confiscated his electronics equipment, including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.

After PRISM nothing will be the same in western countries, PRISM certified that our modern communication media, the internet, is not a safe place. To be honest it has never been a safe place, but at least formally any one used to have the right for privacy.

As for wikileaks affair nobody told Snowden was lying, that means he told the truth so NSA did spied on people and countries (in Germany this is becoming a big issue).

And when people close to the government say that anybody using encryption can be a terrorist well we can understand that something is at risk.

What is happening is that if a Journalist publish something then he is in danger, his family as well, the people that worked with him even indirectly, as lavabit that was just providing a secure mailbox to snowden, can be target of pressure and seen their right limited (a NSL may be? who knows if you got it you cannot say to anyone nor even your lawyer).

At the same time he cannot hold data secure because the fact he is securing data is considered an act of terrorism or worse. he cannot exchange information with email or phone because are hacked. Can we really think this is the best environment for a free journalist?

i’m afraid all we could have then is people like this one: Time senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald has apologized for a tweet in which he suggested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be killed in a drone strike.

“I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange,” Grunwald wrote on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

The tweet was met with immediate criticism by fellow journalists, including the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald:

I assume you’re allowed to express this vile opinion & still be an objective “journalist”- not an “activist”, right?

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 17, 2013

Here’s the idiotic and frankly disturbing since-deleted tweet from TIME

— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) August 18, 2013

This is a @Time reporter. Remarkable. RT @MikeGrunwald: I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.

— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) August 17, 2013

In response, WikiLeaks called for Grunwald’s resignation:

We have written to TIME magazine to ask for Michael Grunwald’s resignation

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 18, 2013

In a statement, Time magazine called the tweet “offensive” and distanced itself from Grunwald’s views:

Michael Grunwald posted an offensive tweet from his personal Twitter account that is no way representative of TIME’s views. He regrests having tweeted it, and he removed it from his Twitter feed.

Grunwald later apologized on Twitter:

It was a dumb tweet. I’m sorry. I deserve the backlash. (Maybe not the anti-Semitic stuff but otherwise I asked for it.)

— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) August 18, 2013

He added:

I didn’t need a boss to tell me it was dumb. I mean, @blakehounshell called me derpy! Again, I apologize. Good night, everyone.

— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) August 18, 2013

I’m worrying Sallusti and Belpietro made the right choice

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