Linkedin may have censored China-critic’s account, globally

 

Update: Three days after being requested to comment on this issue from Safeguard Defenders, a media outlet, and Peter Humphrey himself, the account of Peter Humphrey was quietly back in working order as of late yesterday, but with no comment issued from Linkedin as to why.

 


 

After UK’s TV regulator Ofcom launched a formal investigation of CGTN (China Global Television Network), based on a complaint by British former journalist Peter Humphrey and Safeguard Defenders, U.S. social media company LinkedIn appears to have started censoring Peter Humphrey’s account, globally.

After Peter Humphrey posted a few newspaper articles on the subject on May 8, his social media account, which is still accessible, ceased to show any new posts, comments, or other updates that he made after 16.00 (GMT+1) on May 9. He has made numerous postings, including comments and links to newspaper articles over the past 48 hours and received no error messages when posting. But the posts fail to appear in the Linkedin feed. Older posts and activity remain visible and in other respects, his account is functioning, so it is unlikely to be a technical error. Linkedin earlier in December 2018 blocked his account in China.

The effect is effective on Linkedin globally, and not just for Linkedin China. Safeguard Defenders have reached out to Linkedin for a comment and will post any response here. Peter Humphrey has reached out to Linkedin and has so far received no reply.


 

This is the second time within half a year that Linkedin has blocked Peter Humphrey’s posts. In December 2018 Mr. Humphrey received a notice from Linkedin saying  he would be blocked in China because of the “presence of specific content.”

After Buzzfeed reached out to Linkedin,  Nicole Leverich, a spokesperson for the company they said that his profile had been blocked in error. They refused to say why he had been blocked.

This followed blocking in China of another vocal critic of the Chinese government, Zhou Fengsuo. In a message to Zhou, Linkedin said the company “strongly supports freedom of expression,” but his profile and activities would not be viewable to users in China because of “specific content on your profile.” After media attention, Linkedin claimed again that it had been an error.


 

The above two incidents concerned ‘merely’ blocked access to an account for users of Linkedin China. The current development regarding Mr. Humphrey’s account is global in effect, and no new posts, comments, likes or other functions posted appears visible for anyone.

UK regulator launch investigation of Chinese State-TV

UPDATE: 2019-05-09 (17:30 GMT+1)

One day after Ofcom launched an investigation of Chinese State TV broadcaster CGTN, after a complaint filed by victim Peter Humphrey and Safeguard Defenders – it has now launched a second investigation of the same broadcaster based on a complaint filed by Angela Gui and Safeguard Defenders concerning two Forced TV Confessions by imprisoned/disappeared Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai.

Since Gui’s last TV confession in 2018, China has continued to extract and air such televised “confessions”, domestically as well as internationally. Gui’s last confession was also broadcast on CGTN Francais in French, and two Canadians, a Chinese journalists (and his family members), a uighur poet and even a judge on China’s supreme court – who is still missing – has been paraded on TV ‘confessing’ to crimes they have not been convicted, or even arrest, for. The use of these confessions have slowed since its height 2016, but remains a continuously used tool by the Chinese state.

 


 

BREAKING NEWS. The broadcasting regulator of the United Kingdom,  the Office of Communications (Ofcom), has launched a formal investigation into forced confessions broadcast by Chinese state TV giant CGTN – China Global Television Network. A similar investigation, based on a very similar complaint against Iran’s Press TV, previously led to Press TV losing its license and being given a large fine.

This investigation has been launched following a “privacy and fairness complaint” (view complaint here) filed by British former journalist and fraud investigator Peter Humphrey on November 23, 2018. Mr. Humphrey is one of many victims of China’s recurrent use of Forced TV Confessions and was forced to record a “confession” under duress, long before indictment, trial or conviction of any crime in order to deny him justice and to prejudice his case. That “confession” was then aired in China by state broadcaster CCTV on multiple channels, and in English around the world on CCTV’s overseas arm CGTN. Mr. Humphrey was later paraded on Chinese television in another such forced and false “confession”, which was again aired both in Chinese in China and in English worldwide, including in the UK.

The violation is considered so grave that Ofcom has exempted Mr. Humphrey’s complaint from a normal time limit of having to file a complaint within 20 days after an accused broadcast, given the fact that at the time, he was incarcerated and not allowed to communicate with the outside world and that after his release he has battled cancer, PTSD and other illnesses caused by deliberate rough handling in captivity.


 

A similar complaint, concerning Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai, who remains detained at an unknown location, was filed by his UK-based daughter Angela Gui, on December 30, 2018. A decision on whether to launch a second investigation into CGTN based on Ms. Gui’s complaint remains pending. However, considering that her father’s multiple forced “confessions” are more recent, it is unlikely that Ofcom can shirk launching a formal investigation into the Gui case as well. Should that investigation be launched, the full complaint filed with Ofcom will be made public.


 

Ofcom’s ability to revoke a broadcaster’s UK license hangs heavy over CGTN, as London has been selected as the hub for a massive new CGTN European division. Their brand new Chiswick Park facility in London has recently opened and is undergoing rapid expansion.

As China’s ties with the United States, Canada and Australia deteriorate sharply, and given the EU’s importance in China’s trade equation, especially as its economic growth continues to slow down, Beijing’s push for expanded influence across Europe and in the EU, in which the massive expansion of CGTN and Chinese state media play a key role, is now at risk.


 

Around June 10, China, if it respects its own draconian rules and laws,  will have to move two Canadian prisoners, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, from “Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location” (RSDL) and place them under formal judicial arrest. Both have been “disappeared” into RSDL in response to a political and diplomatic crisis with Canada. If they are moved to judicial arrest, the Communist authorities will no doubt launch a propaganda campaign to justify their actions. With CGTN’s abuses now under an official probe in the UK and under the international spotlight, the parading of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig in forced TV “confessions” in front of an international audience may have been curtailed.


 

Separately, two other complaints, filed by Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing Kee and Peter Dahlin of Safeguard Defenders, both against CCTV-4, not CGTN, for broadcasting Chinese language “confessions”, has not led to any investigations, as CCTV, unlike CGTN, does not maintain a license in the UK and only broadcasts over IP-TV. This is despite the fact that all of CCTV’s channels, regardless of their channel number, are part of one single organisation directed by the Chinese Communist Party.


 

Of note is that, upon further examination, CGTN included in one of its broadcasts a wrongful translation (into English) of Peter Humphrey’s spoken Chinese words, adding words to the translation that were never said, changing the meaning significantly, in a clear distortion of fact. This exposes CGTN to supervision by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which, unlike Ofcom, operates with a narrower mandate but with the scope to take action against “intentional falsification of the news”. A complaint to the FCC, based on eight different aired “confessions” by CGTN in the United States is now under preparation. 


More information will be presented shortly, with this page being updated.


To learn more about China’s use of Forced TV Confessions, and the recent reorganisation of Chinese state/party media, and its expansion worldwide, especially in Europe, see Safeguard Defenders recent book Trial By Media, available on Amazon worldwide and other select online stores.