Among them is Julian Assange world-famous advocates calling on governments to end campaigns to suppress freedom of expression Among them is Julian Assange world-famous advocates calling on governments to end campaigns to suppress freedom of expression

Among them is Julian Assange world-famous advocates calling on governments to end campaigns to suppress freedom of expression

Among them is Julian Assange world-famous advocates calling on governments to end campaigns to suppress freedom of expression

A group of 136 academics, historians and journalists from the left, right and center of the political spectrum have warned that the system of censorship of freedom of expression “undermines the basic principles of democracy”.
Governments, NGOs and social media companies are using “disinformation” as an excuse to stifle freedom of expression in violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the group Defenders of Freedom of Expression warned in a statement in an open letter.

The Westminster Declaration was published on Wednesday, October 18, and was signed by a group that included Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson, British biologist Richard Dawkins, New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, actor Tim Robbins, and scientist evolutionary biologist Brett Weinstein, and economist Glenn Lurie. Director Oliver Stone, whistleblower Edward Snowden, British comedian John Cleese, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Ε½iΕΎek, British journalist Matt Ridley, Stanford professor Jay Bhattacharya, Harvard medical professor Martin Kulldorff, Australian journalist Adam Cretton, French science journalist Xavier Azalbert and German director Robert Sebes.

The signatories also include two independent journalists, Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi.

The announcement was sent to US President Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and other heads of state.

“Coming from the left, right, and political center, we are united by our commitment to universal human rights and freedom of expression, and we are all deeply concerned by attempts to characterize protected expression as inaccurate, misleading, and other ill-defined terms,” the group wrote.

The letter condemned government-led efforts to restrict freedom of expression, and described the UK's Online Safety Bill and the "hate speech" bills in Ireland and Scotland as direct threats to freedom of expression.

It also condemned social media companies for filtering, labeling and blocking legitimate content at the request of governments or NGOs.

The extent of this type of censorship was revealed with the publication of the “Twitter Files” last year, which demonstrated that the social media platform (which Elon Musk has since bought and renamed “X”) cooperated with the White House to remove factually correct information about the virus. Corona, colluded with the FBI to remove content the agency wanted to hide, assisted online influence campaigns by the US military, and censored “anti-Ukraine narratives” on behalf of multiple US intelligence agencies.

In many of the cases highlighted in the Twitter Files, governments did not directly request platforms to remove content. Instead, NGOs and academics played this role.

In 2021, for example, a group of academics funded by the CIA, the Pentagon, the US State Department and other agencies, pressured Twitter to ban users from posting “content that might encourage vaccine hesitancy.”

“We do not want our children to grow up in a world where they live in fear of expressing their opinions,” the signatories wrote. “We want them to grow up in a world where their ideas can be expressed, explored, and debated openly, the world that the founders of our democracies envisioned when they enshrined freedom of expression in our laws and constitutions.”

The letter urged governments and technology companies to adhere to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

The Westminster Declaration asserts that censorship is ultimately counterproductive: “It sows mistrust, encourages extremism, and delegitimizes the democratic process. Throughout human history, attacks on freedom of expression have always been a precursor to attacks on all other freedoms, and the systems that “It seeks to destroy freedom of expression and has always sought to destroy democracy.”

Macron discusses with the Chadian president the withdrawal of French forces from Niger

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Chadian counterpart, Mohamed Idriss Deby, discussed at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday the regional crises and the withdrawal of French forces from Niger, the French presidency announced. 

The Elysee said in a statement that the two presidents discussed “all regional issues, including Sudan, Libya and Niger, as well as the return of our military capabilities to France.”

He added, "The meeting also allowed the two presidents to discuss the progress of the political transition process in Chad."

After the military coup that took place in Niger in July, the new authorities asked Paris to withdraw its forces from the country.

In light of this situation, France yielded to reality and decided to withdraw its 1,400 troops in addition to their equipment.

France will implement this withdrawal process mainly through Chad.

The French soldiers will return to their country on flights from N'Djamena, while their equipment is supposed to be transported to the port of Douala in Cameroon in land convoys that will pass through areas where "jihadist" groups are active.

Macron said in late September that French forces would leave Niger "by the end of the year," but experts expect the withdrawal period from Niger to take about six months due to the logistical challenges posed by this withdrawal.

France must return equipment equivalent to two thousand containers.

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