TBR News March 12, 2017

Mar 12 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. March 12, 2017: “Turkey, who has had a deplorable record over the years of slaughtering people they do not approve of, is now threatening Europe because her nacent dictator wants to stir up political trouble in its countries. While Turkey is screaming about various countries violating Turkish rights by prohibiting troublemaking visits by her diplomats, she is quietly murdering as many Kurds as she can. The Kurds occupy a quarter of Turkish land and represent at least 25% of her population so, like the Christian Armenians she slaughtered during the First World War, the Turkish government is planning to wipe out their Kurdish population, regardless of what anyone else cares about it. Once a mainstay of Nato military forces, Turkey is quickly becoming a rogue state and rogue states rarely survive for very long.”

Table of Contents

  • Web inventor warns over fake news, online political advertising
  • Turkey promises harsh retaliation after Netherlands bars ministers
  • 5 biggest Turkey-EU scandals before Dutch diplomatic row
  • Tensions Escalate Between Berlin and Erdogan
  • The Armenian Holocaust: The Turkish Final Solution
  • N. Accuses Turkey of Killing Hundreds of Kurds
  • WikiLeaks US spying files: How Windows users can protect themselves from the CIA
  • Scottish independence vote looking inevitable, FT cites unidentified UK minister
  • The American assassination of Rafael Trujillo
  • Iraqi general says 30 percent of west Mosul recaptured from Islamic State
  • Number of criminal gangs operating in Europe surges to 5,000, says Europol

Web inventor warns over fake news, online political advertising

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that targeted political advertising drawn from personal data is one of the major threats to an open internet. Complex algorithms are also aiding the spread of fake news, he added.

March 12, 2017

by Chase Winter


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web, has warned that the widespread collection of personal data and the use of poorly understood algorithms on the internet are leading to the spread of misinformation and targeted political campaigns.

Writing in an open letter marking the 28th anniversary of his invention, he said many people obtained news and information from a few social media sites and search engines. Companies like Facebook and Google make money through clicks they show users based on personal data and online behavior.

“They choose what to show us based on algorithms which learn from our personal data that they are constantly harvesting,” the British computer scientist wrote. “The net result is that these sites show us content they think we’ll click on – meaning that misinformation, or ‘fake news’, which is surprising, shocking, or designed to appeal to our biases can spread like wildfire,” he warned.

Berners-Lee said the solution is not to create central bodies to determine what is true or not, but rather gatekeepers like Google and Facebook should continue to combat the problem of spreading misinformation. At the same time, he advocated for more transparency in how algorithms are used.

Many companies provide free online services in exchange for personal data, but “we’re missing a trick,” because the data is held in “proprietary silos” that users have no control on how or with whom it is shared, Berners-Lee said

‘Chilling effect’ on free speech

The widespread data collection has the side effect of infringing on privacy rights. “Through collaboration with – or coercion of – companies, governments are also increasingly watching our every move online, and passing extreme laws that trample on our rights to privacy,” the founder of the Web Foundation said.

The dangers to political opponents or writers living under repressive regimes is clear, but even in democracies “watching everyone, all the time is simply going too far,” he wrote.

“It creates a chilling effect on free speech and stops the web from being used as a space to explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality or religion,” he wrote.

Another trend that emerged during the 2016 US election was the use of sophisticated online political advertising.  As most people get information from a limited number of platforms that use complex algorithms taken from personal information, political campaigns are able to directly target users with messaging.

“There are suggestions that some political adverts – in the US and around the world – are being used in unethical ways – to point voters to fake news sites,” he said. “Targeted advertising allows a campaign to say completely different, possibly conflicting things to different groups,” he wrote, questing whether or not that practice was democratic.

Turkey promises harsh retaliation after Netherlands bars ministers

March 12, 2017

by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Thomas Escritt


ANKARA/ROTTERDAM-Turkey told the Netherlands on Sunday that it would retaliate in the “harshest ways” after Turkish ministers were barred from speaking in Rotterdam, as a row over Ankara’s political campaigning among Turkish immigrants escalated.

President Tayyip Erdogan said “Nazism is still widespread in the West” after the Netherlands joined other European countries worried about political tensions inside Turkey spilling beyond its borders that have prevented Turkish politicians from holding rallies.

The Dutch government on Saturday first barred Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from flying to Rotterdam and later stopped Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from entering the Turkish consulate in the port city, before escorting her out of the country to Germany.

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon early on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Officers carried out charges on horseback.

The Dutch government, which is set to lose about half its seats in elections this week as the anti-Islam party of Geert Wilders makes strong gains, said the ministers’ visits were undesirable and it would not cooperate in their political campaigning in the Netherlands.

“If you can sacrifice Turkish-Dutch relations for an election on Wednesday, you will pay the price,” Erdogan said in a speech at an awards ceremony in Istanbul.

“I thought Nazism was dead, but I was wrong. Nazism is still widespread in the West,” he said. “The West has shown its true face.”

Speaking to reporters before a public appearance in the northeastern French city of Metz, Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue to act against the Netherlands until it apologizes.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he would do everything to “de-escalate” the confrontation, which he described as the worst the Netherlands had experienced in years.

But he said the idea of apologizing was “bizarre”.

“This is a man who yesterday made us out for fascists and a country of Nazis. I’m going to de-escalate, but not by offering apologies. Are you nuts?” he told a morning talk show.

In a statement issued early on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would retaliate in the “harshest ways”.

Protesters also gathered outside the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul, throwing eggs and stones at the buildings.


Supporting Rutte’s decision to ban the visits, the Dutch government said there was a risk of Turkish political divisions flowing over into its own Turkish minority, which has both pro- and anti-Erdogan camps.

It cited public order and security worries in withdrawing landing rights for Cavusoglu’s flight.

Turkey fired back saying the Dutch ambassador to Ankara should not return from leave “for some time”.

Erdogan is looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, to help secure victory next month in a referendum that would give the presidency sweeping new powers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will do all she can to prevent Turkey’s domestic tensions spreading onto German territory. Austria and Switzerland have also canceled Turkish rallies due to the escalating dispute.

A senior member of her conservative bloc in parliament, Hans Michelbach, demanded on Sunday that the EU stop aid to Turkey and ruled out any hopes that it would join the EU.

“There is no prospect of entry in the long run. Turkey is getting further and further away from the European Union. Support programs (that it gets as an EU candidate) are therefore a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said in a statement.

“It is time that the EU stops performing like a diplomatic paper tiger towards Ankara. Europe must not be led by the nose round the Turkish election arena.”

The diplomatic row comes in the run-up to the coming week’s Dutch election in which the mainstream parties are under strong pressure from the far-right party of Geert Wilders.

After Kaya, the Turkish family minister, was escorted out of the country, Wilders told her on Twitter “go away and never come back”.

Erdogan’s spokesman responded by saying the Netherlands had bowed to anti-Islam sentiment.

“Shame on the Dutch government for succumbing to anti-Islam racists and fascists, and damaging long-standing Turkey-NL relations,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.

In a sign the row could spread further, the owner of a venue in Sweden where a senior official from Turkey’s ruling party had been due to hold a rally on Sunday canceled the rental contract, Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported.

The news agency said the owner had not given a reason for their decision.

Cavusoglu also decided against traveling to Zurich, Switzerland, for an event on Sunday after failing to find a suitable venue. Zurich’s security authorities had unsuccessfully lobbied the federal government in Bern to ban Cavusoglu’s appearance.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler and Yedim Dikmen in Istanbul, Orhan Coskun and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Anthony Deutsch and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Richard Lough)

 5 biggest Turkey-EU scandals before Dutch diplomatic row

March 12, 2017


Tension between Ankara and Europe escalated to a new level after the Netherlands refused landing to the Turkish FM’s plane and outright deported a Turkish minister from Rotterdam. RT looks at the biggest political rows that preceded the latest conflict

  1. Outrage in Vienna as Erdogan brands Austria ‘capital of radical racism’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his entourage are known for not mincing words when it comes to criticism from European capitals, whether it is linked to meddling in Turkey’s affairs or its relationship with the EU. When last August Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern dubbed the mired EU membership talks with Turkey a “fiction” due to the full-blown crackdown that Ankara launched in the aftermath of a failed military coup, Ankara returned the favor, as Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu labeled Austria “the capital of radical racism.” The war of words continued, with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz advising the Turkish government to tone down its inflammatory rhetoric and “do its homework.”

  1. Holland summons Turkish ambassador after consulate draws up a list of local ‘Gulenists’

Turkish-Dutch relations suffered one of many blows in December when a Turkish embassy official admitted to collecting the names of Dutch residents with allegedly ties to the movement of self-exiled Turkish cleric Fethulla Gulen, who Turkish authorities believe was the mastermind behind the foiled military coup. Upon the revelation, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders summoned Turkey’s ambassador to The Hague, describing the report as “worrying” and vowing to suppress the “long arm” of Ankara. However, other Dutch politicians used far stronger language, with Holland’s center-right Christian Democratic Appeal Party labeling the snooping “bizarre and unacceptable.”

  1. Germany fumes as Erdogan compares ban on pro-Turkish rallies to ‘actions of Nazis’

Germany and Turkey have often found their relationship on the rocks over the past few years. However, the latest spat between Berlin and Ankara may overshadow all previous fallouts due to the Turkish president’s reference to the country’s Nazi past, a particularly sensitive topic in post-WWII Germany. Lambasting the decision to cancel a number of rallies in support of a controversial constitutional reform referendum, Erdogan said: “Germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy and you should know that your current actions are no different to those of Nazi period.” As the April vote nears, Turkish officials in Europe have been drumming up support for the constitutional reform, which would expand the president’s powers. The comparison inevitably drew the ire of Berlin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel slamming Erdogan’s remark as unworthy of comment.

  1. Dutch PM demands explanation after Turkish consulate asks to report on those insulting Erdogan

In April of last year, the Turkish Consulate General in Rotterdam made media headlines by asking members of the Turkish community living in the Netherlands to report on fellow citizens who were “insulting our president, the Turkish national or Turkey in general.” The outcry that followed the revelation resulted in the consulate apologizing for the “unfortunate choice of words” in a letter containing the request, which had been sent to a number of Turkish organizations in Holland and subsequently leaked online. Commenting on the scandal, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appeared to be baffled by the odd instruction and ordered the Dutch ambassador in Ankara to demand an explanation.

  1. Erdogan labels Dutch authorities ‘fascists’ for barring flight of FM arriving for rally

On Saturday, the Netherlands revoked the landing permit for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s flight after he had warned that Turkey would impose sanctions on Holland should the Dutch hamper his plans to speak at a pro-Erdogan rally in Rotterdam. The last-minute move prompted a sharp reaction from Erdogan, who denounced what he called “Nazi remnants, fascists,” while promising a similar welcome for Dutch diplomats visiting Turkey. Hitting back, PM Rutte said Erdogan’s observations were “way out of line.”

Tensions Escalate Between Berlin and Erdogan

Turkey’s hardline approach to German journalist Deniz Yücel has created considerable pressure for the government in Berlin, with Erdogan’s statements over the weekend further exacerbating the situation. Still, the Turkish leader isn’t as strong as he appears to be.

March 7, 2017

by Maximilian Popp, Fidelius Schmid and Christoph Schult


The discussion in the presidential palace in Ankara lasted longer than planned. Angela Merkel spent more than two hours in early February speaking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging him to adhere to civil liberties and democracy and also calling upon him to respect the division of powers.

Finally, the chancellor addressed the case of Deniz Yücel, a correspondent with the conservative daily Die Welt who had fled the Turkish authorities and took refuge on the property of the summer residence of the German ambassador in Istanbul, where he holed up for the next five weeks.

But the chancellor’s positive words about the journalist bore little fruit. When Yücel ultimately headed to police headquarters in Istanbul around two weeks later to turn himself in voluntarily, the agency head seemed well-informed. The police chief greeted the correspondent by saying the German chancellor had taken great interest in him.

The arrest of the German-Turkish journalist marks a new nadir in the already deeply unsettled relations between Berlin and Ankara. Even as the chancellor spoke of a “bitter” development and caravans of cars drove through Hamburg and Berlin bearing “Free Deniz” protest signs, those close to Erdogan defended what they claimed to be an independent decision made by the Turkish judiciary. Ultimately, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel requested a meeting with the Turkish ambassador at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin and spoke of one of the “biggest tests” yet seen in German-Turkish relations.

The German government finds itself in a tight spot. It doesn’t want to lose Turkey as a Middle East ally, but it must also respond to the growing outrage among the German populace over a Turkish president who is in the process of turning his country into a dictatorship, one who has ordered organizations aligned with the government in Ankara to spy on people in Germany and who has now gone even further by cracking down on a German reporter who doesn’t appear to have done anything other than to report critically on the situation in the country. Cem Özdemir, who heads Germany’s Green Party, says Erdogan believes he has “Mrs. Merkel wrapped around his little finger because of the refugee pact.”

Sliding into Dictatorship

With only a few weeks to go before Erdogan holds a constitutional referendum that would restructure the country into a de facto autocracy, the call for consequences is becoming louder in Germany. From conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) national executive member Jens Spahn to center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) foreign policy expert Niels Annan to conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) head Horst Seehofer, a cross party coalition is growing that seeks to prevent planned events in Germany, with its large population of Turkish citizens, by Erdogan and other top government officials to promote the constitutional reform.

The government, however, is concerned that if it bans the events, it might anger the Turkish population in Germany. Last week, officials sought to pass the buck, with officials in Berlin saying it was the job of the individual states to decide whether to ban events and not the federal government. But state officials in North Rhine-Westphalia claimed it was “the federal government’s job.”

On Thursday, one municipality acted on its own. In Gaggenau, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg, officials canceled a planned appearance by Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, claiming that the event hall would not be able to handle the number of people expected. At around the same time, officials in Cologne canceled a planned appearance by the Turkish economics minister, forcing him to hold his speech in a different city. It was, in short, mayors who began making the tough decisions that politicians at the state and federal level either couldn’t — or didn’t want to — make.

The Turkish government responded by officially summoning the German ambassador to the Foreign Ministry in Ankara, a diplomatic affront that further poisoned relations.

Intense Criticism of Erdogan

Then, a new low was reached on Sunday when Erdogan, speaking in Istanbul, said that German actions “do not differ from the earlier Nazi practices.” The Turkish leader also described journalist Yücel as a “terrorist.”

Merkel angrily dismissed the allegation on Monday. “One seriously cannot even comment on such misplaced comments,” she said, adding that statements minimizing the suffering caused by the crimes of the National Socialists during the Holocaust are unjustifiable. Even as she emphasized that there is much connecting Germany and Turkey, she added that there are “profound differences of opinion” between the two countries on issues like “freedoms of opinion and the press” that “are now in clear view.”

Following Erdogan’s outburst, the city of Hamburg this week canceled an event planned for Tuesday night with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, citing fire safety concerns. After defiantly stating, “No one can stop me,” the foreign minister did speak in Hamburg at the residence of the Turkish consulate general.

But it’s not just Berlin that finds itself in a difficult spot. Erdogan isn’t in nearly as strong a position as it might seem. At the moment, Erdogan is having to control collateral damage caused by his repressive policies while at the same time, he is facing a difficult fight to ensure that his reform plans are not rejected by Turkish voters.

That fight was on full display a week ago Saturday at a campaign event held in a sports arena in Ankara. Mayors, members of parliament, government ministers and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim all appeared onstage in front of 40,000 guests to launch the “Yes on the Referendum on the Presidential System” campaign. A portrait of Erdogan had been hung from the ceiling with the words “Evet,” Turkish for “yes.”

Yet despite the meticulous planning, the arena didn’t fill with the kind of euphoria generally seen at rallies in support of Erdogan’s Justice and Development (AKP) party. The crowd monotonously waved flags and clapped obligingly during Yildirim’s speech. Leading AKP heavyweights like former President Abdullah Gül chose not to attend the event.

A Country in Crisis

AKP is experiencing similar sentiment almost all across Turkey. The party is having a tough time convincing the people of the necessity of a constitutional reform that would place virtually all state responsibility under the control of the president. Erdogan, who until recently seemed all-powerful, suddenly has reason to fear he won’t win the April 16 referendum.

The polls are fluctuating, with some showing the “no” camp ahead in February — in some instances with a 10 percentage point lead. More unsettling for Erdogan is a poll taken by the institute Akam showing that more than one-third of AKP supporters plan to vote “no” in the referendum.

It has become almost impossible for the government to hide the crisis facing the country. Since the July 15, 2016, coup attempt, Erdogan has suspended close to 130,000 government employees from their positions and around 46,000 people have been arrested on suspicions of assisting or participating in the coup. The purge has left parts of the government apparatus paralyzed. Classes have been canceled at schools and universities because of a lack of teachers and professors. The number of casualties in the military deployment in Syria is also growing. The country is routinely shaken by terrorist attacks perpetrated by Kurds or Islamist terrorists. On new year’s eve alone, a terrorist strike on the Istanbul nightclub Reina left 39 people dead.

The unrest in the country has long since begun having an impact on the economy. Though it flourished for many years under Erdogan, the Turkish economy shrank by 1.8 percent during the third quarter of 2016 relative to the same period the previous year. Tourism revenues in the country have plummeted by one-third and unemployment has risen to a seven-year high.

Even a majority of AKP voters feels that the situation in their country has deteriorated since the last parliamentary election in November 2015, according to one poll. Two-thirds of those surveyed said that Turkey is experiencing economic difficulty.

The president, in short, is under pressure. Which is why, says Turkish opposition politician Mithat Sancar, the Yücel case is a welcome gift. It enables Erdogan to distract attention from his own weaknesses and instead present himself the way he most likes to do: as the unchallenged leader who, if need be, can also pick a fight with the West.

A German Role in Shaping Turkey’s Future

And there’s one group of voters that is particularly receptive to Erdogan’s blustering: Turks living in Germany. Around 3 million people with Turkish roots live here, with half of them possessing Turkish passports and the right to vote back home. After Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Germany is Turkey’s fourth largest electoral constituency.

For years, Turkish governments paid little attention to their compatriots living abroad. “We were foreign currency procurers,” says Fatih Zingal, a member of the board of the Union of European-Turkish Democrats (UETD), an AKP lobby group in Germany. “We sent money back home and that was it.”

That situation has changed dramatically under Erdogan. In 2010, the government created the Presidency for Turks Abroad (YTP), an agency with 300 employees who are responsible for maintaining contact with the approximately 4 million Turkish citizens living abroad. “Wherever our fellow citizens are, we are there too,” the office promises.

Among Turks living abroad, Erdogan is arguably more popular than any Turkish leader who preceded him. During the parliamentary election in fall 2015, 60 percent of Turkish voters living in Germany voted for AKP, 10 percentage points higher than inside Turkey. Erdogan will be relying on those overseas voters to pass his referendum in April. Current forecasts indicate that the race will be tight, meaning the outcome could ultimately be decided by just a few tens of thousands of votes. “Turkey’s future will be partly decided in Germany,” says opposition politician Sancar.

Are Merkel’s Hands Ties?

So far, the Turkish government hasn’t made an official request in Berlin for permission for a visit by Erdogan. Inside the AKP, however, the date of March 18 has been circulating. And inside the German Foreign Ministry, officials assume that request is coming soon.

Last week, sources in both the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry said it would be nearly impossible for them to reject such a visit. After all, they would also likely allow Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to speak to their compatriots in Germany. Furthermore, the German government is eager to avoid accusations of attempting to interfere in the campaign. Particularly at a time when Turkey is trampling on press and speech freedoms, it is necessary to show even more magnanimity to those who think differently, a source in the German Foreign Ministry said.

That may sound noble, but it’s only part of the truth. The German government is also reliant on Turkey in the battle against Islamic State and for finding a solution to the Syria conflict. An even greater concern, however, is that an irritated Erdogan could revoke his country’s refugee deal with Europe. A new wave of migrants at the start of the German federal election campaign certainly wouldn’t help Merkel’s re-election bid.

That might in part explain Merkel’s apparent indifference in recent months to the downfall of democracy witnessed in Turkey. Now, however, she is facing increasing calls to stand up to the Ankara despot.

But what might the government do if it shies away even from preventing Erdogan from making a public appearance in Germany? One option is economic aid. Late last month, Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek spoke to his German counterpart Wolfgang Schäuble during a visit to Germany about support for the embattled Turkish economy.

But senior officials from the Finance, Economic and Foreign Ministries in Berlin are all in agreement that no additional aid should be provided until after the Turkish referendum.

The German government also has some leverage in the negotiations over a deepening of the customs union. Berlin could demand concessions from Ankara on human rights in exchange for better access to the European market.

At the same time, officials in Berlin are welcoming steps by German prosecutors to intensify their actions against Erdogan’s forces in Germany. In mid-February, investigators searched the apartments of four imams linked with Ditib, a Turkish-Islamist umbrella organization in the country, who are suspected of having collected information about supporters of Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen in their religious communities for Diyanet, the Turkish religious authority. Gülen has been blamed by Erdogan’s government for the coup attempt. The investigators didn’t find the men, however, because they had apparently already left to Turkey. The imams at Ditib’s mosques in Germany are sent and paid for by Diyanet.

Fears Conflict Could Spread to Germany

The government in Berlin fears that the conflict in Turkey could at some point spread to Germany. The federal interior minister as well as his counterparts at the state level are determined to more closely monitor Erdogan’s fifth column and to not provide the Turkish organizations with as much leeway as they have in the past. At the same time, Berlin is seeking to develop a new strategy — one that would make clear that it will not allow itself to be blackmailed by Ankara but at the same time does not unnecessarily escalate the situation with a difficult partner.

What’s also clear is that the sharper the tone gets between the two governments, the smaller the chances are of accomplishing anything in the Yücel case. Because officials in Ankara consider the German-Turkish journalist to be a Turkish citizen, the German Embassy is unable to provide him with consular assistance. The Foreign Ministry in Berlin has been warning dual citizens of that risk on its travel advisory website since last summer. Yücel was only safe for as long as he was hiding in the summer home of the German ambassador in northern Istanbul. Under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, representatives of the host nation are forbidden from entering, searching or carrying out an arrest on embassy property without the permission of the head of the mission.

The website of the Germany Embassy states that the summer residence is used to facilitate “German-Turkish dialogue,” but the fact that the German ambassador provided Yücel with temporary asylum is unlikely to have promoted dialogue between the two countries.

Arresting Yücel didn’t either.

The Armenian Holocaust: The Turkish Final Solution

Before World War I the Ottoman Empire came under the Young Turks government. At first some Armenian political organizations supported the Young Turks in hopes that there would be a real change from Abdul Hamid’s policies towards the Armenian population. There were Armenians elected to the Ottoman Parliament, where some remained throughout the ensuing world war. However they were later to be disappointed. Other parliamentarians such as Muradyan and Garo would go on to lead Armenian rebels in ethnic cleansing campaigns against Muslim and Jewish Ottoman villagers. The Young Turks feared the Armenian community, which they had believed was more sympathetic to allied powers (specifically Russia) than to the Ottoman Empire.

In 1914 Ottomans passed a new law that required all adult males up to age 45, to either be recruited in the Ottoman army or pay special fees in order to be excluded from service. Most of the Armenian recruits were later turned into road laborers and the executed. Those who escaped joined the Russians on the east.

In early 1915, simultaneously with a disastrous Ottoman defeat at the hands of Russia at Sarikamish, with the loss of over 80% of a huge military force, battalions of Russian Armenians organized the recruiting of Turkish Armenians from behind the Turkish lines. In response the Young Turk government executed 300 Armenian nationalist intellectuals, although a partisan source as Peter Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris” tells us most were imprisoned and there were even survivors. The fact that most Armenian men were also butchered in the army and many influential figures arrested and killed, places a question mark over certain arguments that Armenians organized revolts and that there was a civil war, given that Armenians were outnumbered, outmanned and outgunned. On the other hand, there were articles in the New York Times as early as November 7, 1914, days after Russia had declared war, attesting to Armenian uprisings (“ARMENIANS FIGHTING TURKS — Besieging Van—Others operating in Turkish Army’s Rear”), and accounts from Armenians themselves, such as Boghos Nubar’s 1919 letter in the Times of London stressing Armenian belligerence. In addition, there is evidence of Russian financial support, testimony from even those such as Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to the effect of “…In the early part of 1915… every Turkish city contained thousands of Armenians who had been trained as soldiers and who were supplied with rifles, pistols, and other weapons of defense,” and even accounts from Armenian newspapers hailing the rebellion. Chronology here is important and not incontestably established.

After the recruitment of most men and the arrests of certain intellectuals, widespread massacres were taking place throughout Ottoman Empire. In desperate attempts at survival, upon hearing of massacres of nearby villages, Armenians in Musa Dagh and Van organized their self defense. In Van, they handed over control of the city to advancing Russians. After waves of massacres and countermassacres, the Ottoman government ordered the deportation of over 1 million Armenians living in Anatolia to Syria and Mesopotamia though this figure has not been conclusively established. Indeed, there is another consensus this number did not exceed 700,000, and Arnold Toynbee reported in his Wellington House (British propaganda division) report of “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire” that 500,000 were alive in 1916. Although the word deportation seems pretty innocent (some would prefer the word “relocation,” as the former means banishment outside a country’s borders; Japanese-Americans, for example, were not “deported” during WWII), things were not, because the deportations themselves were a silent method of mass execution that led to the death of many of the Armenian population, by forcing them to march endlessly through desert, without food or water or enough protection from local Kurdish or Turkish bandits.

In the process several hundred thousand died in the resulting death marches from starvation, dehydration, disease or exhaustion. Several hundred thousands more were massacred by Kurdish militia and Ottoman gendarmes (while other gendarmes gave up their lives defending the Armenians), giving an estimated total under certain counts of 1,500,000 Armenians dead. Then again, the Armenians contend one million survived, and even the Patriarch Ormanian provided a pre-war population figure of 1,579,000. Sympathetic sources as Le Figaro, prompted by Armenian terrorism in 1977 France, figured only 15,000 Armenians as having died from shootings, sickness and deprivation on the march. It also must be borne in mind that of the 2.5-3 million Turkish mortality, many succumbed to the same factors as famine and disease.

Mr. Hovhannes Katchaznouni, first Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic, describes this part of history as follows in his 1923 Manifesto: “At the beginning of the Fall of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war but already been making preparations, Armenian revolutionary bands began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and especially with much uproar… The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had active participation in the formation of the bands and their future military action against Turkey… In the Fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer band organized themselves and fought against the Turks because they could not refrain themselves from fighting. This was an inevitable result of psychology on which the Armenian people had nourished itself during an entire generation; that mentality should have found its expression and did so….The Winter of 1914 and Spring of 1915 were the periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all Armenians in the Caucasus including of course the Dashnaktsutiun. We had no doubt the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered and its Armenian population would be liberated. We had embraced Russia wholeheartedly without any compunction. Without any positive basis of fact we believed that the Tzarist government would grant us a more-or-less broad self-government in the Caucasus and in the Armenian vilayets liberated from Turkey as a reward for our loyalty, our efforts and assistance. ”

Statistics of the Second Massacre

In 1896 the Ottoman government recorded 1,144,000 Armenians living in Anatolia. Professor Justin McCarthy, U.S. historian and expert in Ottoman history, whose books are published by a Turkish organization as well as prestigious university presses such as the Oxford University Press, estimated that there were 1,500,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1912. According to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, there were between 1,845,000 and 2,100,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1914. Estimates range from 1,000,000 given by some Turkish sources to more than 3,500,000 given by some Armenian sources. Arnold J. Toynbee, who served as an intelligence officer during World War I, estimates there were 1,800,000 Armenians living in Anatolia in 1914. Encyclopaedia Britannica took 1,750,000 Armenians living in Anatolia as their estimate, in certain later editions. In 1911, the encyclopedia had figured 1.1 million, and Toynbee estimated less than one million in his 1915 book, “Nationalism and the War,” before his services were enlisted in Wellington House.

U.N. Accuses Turkey of Killing Hundreds of Kurds

March 10, 2017

by Nick Cumming-Bruce

The New York Times

GENEVA — Turkey’s military and police forces have killed hundreds of people during operations against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey, the United Nations said on Friday in a report that listed summary killings, torture, rape and widespread destruction of property among an array of human rights abuses.

The report, by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, details how operations by the Turkish infantry, artillery, tanks and possibly aircraft drove up to half a million people from their homes over a 17-month period from July 2015 to the end of 2016.

Though the report is focused on the conduct of security forces in southeastern Turkey, the 25-page document underscores the deepening alarm of the United Nations over the measures ordered by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since a failed coup attempt last July.

The state of emergency Mr. Erdogan imposed after the coup attempt appeared to “target criticism, not terrorism,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said here on Tuesday.

The Turkish government declined to comment on the report.

Critics of Mr. Erdogan charge that he called off a truce with the Kurds in 2015 to stoke nationalist sentiments after his party fared poorly in parliamentary elections. After the failed coup, he used his enhanced emergency powers to crack down on Kurdish political leaders, intellectuals and others who voiced support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The report said measures taken by the government in the southeast since the failed coup, including arrests of parliamentarians, mass dismissals of officials and closing of Kurdish-language media, had been aimed at suppressing dissent in general and opposition parties in particular.

Mr. al-Hussein said he was “particularly concerned by reports that no credible investigation has been conducted into hundreds of alleged unlawful killings, including women and children.” He called for an independent inquiry without restrictions, noting that his investigators had been denied access to the Kurdish areas.

The report said that about 2,000 people had died in security operations in the southeast, citing information provided by the government. That included close to 800 members of the security forces and 1,200 others who the report said “may or may not” have been involved in violent action against the government.

The Turkish authorities were acting in a difficult security environment, the report acknowledged, citing attacks, killings and kidnappings by the P.K.K.

Nevertheless, by compiling information from interviews with victims and their relatives and by using satellite imagery, investigators for the United Nations verified a variety of abuses by the security forces, among them extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, violence against women and the prevention of access to medical care, food and water.

Investigators found that many of the worst abuses occurred during curfews, when the movement of people was restricted and entire neighborhoods were cut off for days at a time.

Witnesses interviewed in the town of Cizre, along the Tigris River in the southeast, described “apocalyptic” scenes of destruction. Investigators were able to document at least 189 people who were trapped for weeks in basements without food, water, medical aid or electricity before dying in fires started by artillery shelling by security forces. Ambulances were prevented from entering the area, causing deaths that could have been avoided.

Many of the victims simply disappeared in the wholesale destruction of large residential areas carried out by the military, which attacked systematically with heavy weapons, including bombing strikes, the report said. The destruction peaked in August.

Investigators also reported that the authorities refused to investigate civilian deaths, accusing residents of supporting terrorism. The family of one woman who disappeared in Cizre was given three small pieces of charred flesh identified through DNA testing, investigators reported. When a sister of the missing woman then tried to start legal proceedings, she was charged with terrorism offenses.

The United Nations said the report released on Friday would be the first of a series produced by the human rights office, whether or not its investigators were granted the access they needed.

WikiLeaks US spying files: How Windows users can protect themselves from the CIA

The agency is allegedly capable of exploiting zero-day flaws in Microsoft’s operating system

March 11, 2017

by Aatif Sulleyman

The Independent/UK

Microsoft has become the latest technology giant to respond to WikiLeaks’ release of 8,761 documents allegedly detailing the CIA’s spying methods.

The files forming the enormous Vault 7 release claim that the agency was able to exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in Windows, which it used to secretly monitor users.

Microsoft has encouraged customers to update to the latest version of its desktop operating system, saying that most of the vulnerabilities allegedly used by the CIA have already been patched.

“Most of the issues are dated and likely have been addressed in its latest software,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

Older versions of Windows, however, could still be at risk.

Microsoft’s statement echoes previous responses made by Apple and Google, who were forced into action by WikiLeaks’ claim that the CIA also took advantage of unknown flaws in iOS and Android.

Both firms urged customers to update to the latest software, as doing so as gives them the highest level of protection possible. They are currently working to fix any outstanding issues.

Julian Assange, meanwhile, has offered to give technology companies exclusive access to redacted documents detailing all of the CIA’s cyber weapons, in order to help them to prepare themselves against hackers.

Scottish independence vote looking inevitable, FT cites unidentified UK minister

March 10, 2017


A second Scottish independence referendum is now looking inevitable and ministers in the United Kingdom government have now concluded it is a question of when such a vote will be held, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland could hold an independence vote in late 2018, just months before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, though Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly said there is no need for such a vote.

“It’s looking inevitable, I don’t think we’re in any position to stop it happening,” the FT quoted one unidentified minister close to the discussions as saying.

Another unidentified person briefed on current thinking in PM Theresa May’s office said: “The debate is only going to be about the date.”

The FT said that the London government would fight to delay the vote until after the exit from the European Union.

The prospect of an independence vote in Scotland that could rip apart the United Kingdom just months before an EU exit would add a tumultuous twist to Brexit with uncertain consequences for the world’s fifth largest economy.

The results of the June 23 Brexit referendum called the future of the United Kingdom into question because England and Wales voted to leave the EU but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by James Davey)

 The American assassination of Rafael Trujillo

1961 – Trujillo is assassinated on 30 May, dying in a hail of bullets when his car is ambushed on a road outside the capital in a plot organised and executed by members of the country’s wealthy elite. It is reported that the CIA supplied the weapons used by the assassins and provided other assistance. The assassination of the Dominican Republic’s Rafael L. Trujillo was carried out with assistance from the US Central Intelligence Agency. Arms for the May 30, 1961. slaying of the 69-year-old dictator on a lonely stretch of highway near his capital were smuggled by the CIA into the country at the request of the assassins, according to highly qualified sources I interviewed in Santo Domingo shortly after the collapse of the Trujillo rule.

The arms had to come from the outside, I was told, because of the close scrutiny imposed by Trujillo on the removal of guns from military bases. These controls kept the conspirators from obtaining their own weapons without awakening suspicion, despite the involvement in the plot of the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, Gen. Jose Rene Roman Fernandez, and other leading military officers.

The CIA began shipping arms to the Dominican Republic in late 1960, following a series of talks between US Consul Henry Dearborn, Chief Political Officer John Barfield of the US Consulate, and Luis Amiama Tio, who had extensive banana and cattle holdings and had been mayor of Santo Domingo. Also involved in the plot was Antonio Imbert who had been Governor of Puerto Plata province. Both Amiama and Imbert are tough guys and ambitious. Both were made four-star generals by the provisional council that took over after Trujillo’s death. However, when leading army officers balked at their elevation to the highest military rank, Amiama and Imbert said the honor bestowed upon them was too great and modestly demoted themselves to brigadier generals.

1960 was a bad year for the Dominican Republic. The economy was in the dumps. The country was in disgrace internationally as a result of Trujillo’s backing of a plot against the life of Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt. In June, a car full of explosives blew up alongside Betancourt’s automobile during a Caracas Armed Forces Day procession, wounding the President and killing two others. A Venezuelan naval officer later admitted that the elaborate bomb was prepared in the Dominican Republic, presumably as an act of retaliation against Venezuela for having asked the OAS in February 1960, to censure Trujillo for “flagrant violations of human rights.”

In August that same year, the Organization of American States did censure the Dominican Republic, and the US and several Latin American nations thereupon suspended diplomatic relations with the Trujillo regime, though Washington kept a consulate in Ciudad Trujillo to protect its commercial interests.

This was one of the stormiest periods of Trujillo’s 31-year rule. On June 14, 1959, the Dominican Republic’s southern coast had been invaded by Cuba-based Dominican exiles. They were wiped out, but then Trujillo uncovered a plot to kill him, only 24 hours before it was to be carried out on January 21, 1960. Mass purges, arrests and some killings followed. Tensions within the regime mounted rapidly, as did its Byzantine-style ruler’s greed. Assuming the presidency of the Dominican Central Bank, the dictator forced exporters, as part of an “austerity” program, to deposit with the bank half of their dollar earnings, which soon found their way into Trujillo accounts abroad.

During this time, Trujillo was completing an intensive drive, begun in the mid-1950s with the purchase of the Haina complex of sugar mills and lands in the southern part of the Republic, to expand sugar production and appropriate more and more of it to himself. He went so far as to deprive thousands of peasant families of their squatters’ settlements, forcing them to sell their cattle and work as sugar peons. It had been hoped, of course, that the Dominican Republic would get a generous share of the US sugar quota previously allotted to Cuba. An intensive Washington lobbying campaign was carried on to this end, largely through the Dominican Consul-General in Washington, Marco A. Pena. In the late summer of 1960, Congress did raise the Dominican allotment from 27,000 to 250,000 tons, but President Eisenhower slapped a punitive excise tax on it in September, after the OAS ministerial conference voted economic sanctions against the Trujillo regime and a break of diplomatic relations.

As Trujillo’s political and financial problems deepened, talks continued between Dearborn, Barfield and leaders of the anti-Trujillo conspiracy. Toward the end of 1960, contact was established between Amiama and a CIA agent who, according to Arturo R. Espaillat, former head of Trujillo’s Military Intelligence Service, was named Plato Cox. Espaillat made this statement in a press conference in Ottawa in 1962; his word alone cannot, of course, be accepted as conclusive proof. But whatever the name of the agent, the smuggling of firearms into the Republic for the assassination began.

The key link between the assassins and the CIA in the arms shipments was a long-time American civilian resident of Ciudad Trujillo, Lorenzo Perry, otherwise known as “Wimpy,” who operated a supermarket in a fashionable neighborhood where Trujillo also lived. “Wimpy” was put under brief arrest after the killing but was later allowed to leave the country.

The weapons were imported in small parts, to be assembled later by the plotters, among the routine grocery shipments for the supermarket arriving regularly in the capital’s port. The gun-parts entered the Republic in specially marked food cans, which were later turned over to the conspirators.

Plans for the intended assassination were worked out during the same period in which the abortive assault on Cuba was being prepared.

The two American leaders of the assassination were Lt. Col Bevan G. Cass, USMC, Lt, Cmdr Frederick Norris, Naval Attache, DR, NSG

However, when the CIA-organized April 17, 1961 invasion at the Bay of Pigs failed and world attention was focused on Washington’s complicity in that operation, a postponement of the attempt on Trujillo’s life was ordered because of the embarrassment another such failure might cause the United States. But the order to hold up came too late. According to what I was told in the Dominican Republic, the needed weapons were already in the hands of the conspirators, who refused appeals by Dearborn and Barfield to delay the assassination. They insisted on moving at the first opportunity. This came on May 30, when Trujillo and his chauffeur drove out into the country in an unescorted 1959 Chevrolet for a rendezvous at a San Cristobal estate, La Fundacion, with Trujillo’s 20-year-old mistress, Mona Sanchez.

It was Trujillo’s custom to call on his 94-year-old mother, Julia Molina. before going on to La Fundacion. His departure for San Cristobal from his mother’s home was signaled to the killers by Sen. Modesto Diaz, a neighbor of Julia Molina and brother of Brig. Gen. Juan Tomas Diaz, one of the principal gunmen in the plot. It is said that General Diaz was bitter toward Trujillo because of his forced, premature retirement from the army in 1960 on the dictator’s orders.

The plan was to finish off Trujillo, seize control, form a provisional government to be recognized by the US, and hold the elections which Trujillo had promised for May 1962. The assassins intended to be candidates.

The scheme, however, was frustrated soon after the murder when the assassins could not locate Gen. Roman Fernandez, who had been ordered to the San Isidro Air Force Base that afternoon by Trujillo and told to stay there until some administrative irregularities were corrected. Since he was thus kept 10 miles outside Ciudad Trujillo until next morning, Roman was not able to carry out the assignment he had been given. General Roman was to have summoned the entire Trujillo clan to La Fortaleza de Ozama in the capital, informed them of Trujillo’s death and had them killed on the spot.

Around 10:30 pm on May 30, two carloads of gunmen fired 27 shots into the dictator’s body and pummelled it mercilessly on the main highway between the capital and the Agricultural Fair Grounds, where Trujillo annually received tributes for his prize cattle. Having dumped the riddled corpse into the trunk of one of the attack cars, the assassins went to the house of Roman, only to learn there he was not in the capital. They then scattered. In succeeding days all the known assassins, including Roman, were rounded up and slain either at once or shortly before the mass departure of the Trujillo family in November 1961. The two surviving exceptions were Imbert and Amiama.

It can be reported on excellent authority that close associates of the slain dictator knew of the US role within a few days following the killing. Almost immediately upon his May 31 return from Paris to assume command of the Dominican armed forces, Lt. Gen. Rafael (Ramfis) Trujillo Jr. was fully briefed.

However, Ramfis and other retainers, of the dead dictator were warned not to launch reprisals agai1nst Americans involved in the plot. Ramfis’ hand was probably stayed also by the presence of numerous foreign newsman in Ciudad Trujillo within 48 hours after the assassination, and the reported readiness of US naval and marine forces, waiting in off-shore waters, to intervene in the Dominican Republic should there be any loss of American life or property. Likewise, an OAS fact-finding commission arrived in early June, and that may have helped prevent a bloodbath. Ramfis’ six months in power did, however, allow him to liquidate what moveable family wealth he could. US diplomats were telling him that if he behaved himself he could leave the country a rich man, which he did. He “donated” the family sugar mills and lands to the nation.

Dearborn, Barfield and Berry had meanwhile been rushed out of the Dominican Republic by US officials. Subsequently, Dearborn went to Colombia as Consul, and Barfield first to Italy and then to Washington where he was a staff assistant to Edwin Martin, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs. Since the ouster of the Trujillos, Perry (“Wimpy”) has returned to operate his handsomely appointed supermarket in Santo Domingo, greeting customers with calm and courtesy, as if Trujillo had never lived.

Iraqi general says 30 percent of west Mosul recaptured from Islamic State

March 12, 2017

by John Davison


MOSUL, Iraq-Iraqi forces have retaken around 30 percent of west Mosul from Islamic State militants, a commander of the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) said on Sunday, as soldiers pushed further into the jihadists’ territory.

Federal police and Rapid Response units said they had entered the Bab al-Tob area of the Old City, where the fight is expected to be toughest due to narrow alleyways through which armoured vehicles cannot pass.

The militants are vastly outnumbered and outgunned by Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition and are defending their last major stronghold in Iraq using suicide car bombs, snipers and mortars.

As many as 600,000 civilians are trapped with the militants inside the city which Iraqi forces have effectively sealed off from the remaining territory that Islamic State controls in Syria and Iraq.

CTS troops stormed the al-Jadida and al-Aghawat districts on Sunday, Major General Maan al-Saadi told reporters in Mosul, saying the militants were showing signs of weakness despite initial “fierce” resistance.

“The enemy has lost its fighting power and its resolve has weakened. It has begun to lose command and control,” he said, adding that around 17 out of 40 western districts had been retaken.

Saadi said he expected it would take less time to recapture the western half of the city than the east, which was cleared in January after 100 days of fighting.

More than 200,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since the start of the campaign in October, of which more than 65,000 fled their homes in the past two weeks alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

In the Mansour district, from which Islamic State was driven several days ago, residents collected aid brought by volunteers from east Mosul while helicopters circled overhead, firing heavy machine guns and missiles at targets in the city.


It is three weeks since Iraqi forces launched a campaign to recapture districts west of the Tigris River that bisects Mosul.

A federal police spokesman said his forces along with the Rapid Response division, an elite Interior Ministry unit, were now around 300 metres (yards) from the Old Bridge — one of five that connected west Mosul to east. The southernmost two are already controlled by Iraqi forces.

Losing Mosul would be a major blow to Islamic State. It is by far the largest city Islamic State has held since the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria from a mosque in Mosul in the summer of 2014.

The group is expected to pose a continuing threat, reverting to insurgent tactics such as bombings.

As an array of forces dismantle Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate across Iraq and Syria, more evidence is emerging of the war crimes committed by the Sunni Islamist militants, who targeted Shi’ite Muslims and religious minorities as well as opponents from their own sect.

A Shi’ite paramilitary spokesman said on Sunday a mass grave had been found containing the remains of “hundreds” of mainly Shi’ite inmates who were killed by Islamic State overran the Badush prison in June 2014.

The Iraqi army and a Shi’ite paramilitary group called the Abbas Division recaptured the Badush area in recent days as they cut remaining Islamic State supply lines to Mosul, completing the encirclement of the city

Writing by Ahmed Rasheed and Isabel Coles; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

Number of criminal gangs operating in Europe surges to 5,000, says Europol

Law enforcement agency reports alarming increase in people smuggling and digital attacks on businesses

March 9, 2017

by Arthur Nelsen

The Guardian

Brussels-Europol has warned that the number of criminal gangs operating in Europe has surged to at least 5,000, with alarming increases in human smuggling activity and digital attacks on businesses known as “ransomware”.

The EU’s law enforcement agency said it had identified another 17,500 individuals suspected of involvement in smuggling people across borders, adding to a list that already topped 50,000 in 2014.

“We can see obvious evidence of an expanding community in migrant smuggling, as criminals have sensed a fresh opportunity to make a quick buck,” said Europol’s director, Rob Wainwright.

Europol’s latest serious organised crime threat assessment (Socta) details a step change in the way that crime gangs work, with almost half now operating as “poly criminals” across different criminal subcultures. Overall, the number of groups in operation has topped 5,000.

The report paints a disturbing picture of technology becoming the “primary facilitator” for lawbreaking, with entrepreneurial criminal startup’s mushrooming across the “darknet”.

This distributed anonymous network, accessible via software such as The Onion Router (TOR), I2P and Freenet, is now the main supplier of raw materials for forged documents.

Many drug dealers also use it to run semi-professional online businesses from their bedrooms. “Some of these online markets operate in an Amazon-style way with customer feedback, 24-hour guaranteed deliveries, and help and support desks,” Wainwright said.

He pinpointed the digital attacks on businesses that have proliferated in recent years as a particular concern. Until now, “cryptoware” has mostly targeted small and medium-sized businesses, by encrypting their user-generated files and denying them access until a ransom is paid.

But Wainwright said: “The technological capacity of organised criminal gangs is advancing all the time and will very soon be powerful enough to get through the defences of larger corporations like banks.

“The largest corporations will have to decide, as smaller businesses do today: Do you pay the ransom or not? It is a tough call and there are many aspects of that issue that have to be taken into account.”

Europol believes that the rise of the darknet raises questions for lawmakers about how law enforcement authorities can identify criminals hiding in its shadows.

But civil liberties groups fear that legal reform could potentially lead to political activists, lawyers and journalists being targeted by some security forces.

Silkie Carlo, of Liberty, said: “We view encryption as vital to protecting our rights to privacy and numerous rights that come from that, including freedom of expression and maintaining a free press. When encryption is under attack, so is our right to have a private conversation.”

Wainwright said: “We should not be calling for banning encryption. It is a vital way of how we run e-commerce but we haven’t got the balance right between keeping the internet a free part of our lives, and a safe one as well.”

Every day, about 1.7 million people use the darknet, in which 57% of all marketplaces and forums are devoted solely to criminal activity, according to figures cited in the Europol threat assessment.

It will probably be the last Socta produced with the UK’s direct participation, as concerns grow that Brexit could increase British vulnerability to organised crime and terror threats.

Earlier this week Julian King, the UK’s last remaining commissioner, who holds the security union brief, said Britain would be safer if it continued to work closely with Europol after Brexit.

“I make no secret of my belief that both the UK and the EU will gain by continuing to cooperate as closely as possible on security,” he said. “We face shared threats and these threats will not go away once the UK leaves the EU.”

Last year, the UK reported more than 3,000 cross-border crime and terror cases to Europol, while European arrest warrants allowed the fast tracking of the removal of offenders from British streets.

“It is a public security issue to ensure that the UK has mechanisms to continue to do that,” Wainwright said.




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