Press freedom. The interesting case of Seymour Hersh and a gas pipeline sabotage

David Barry

In a recent interview Stefania Ascari, an Italian MP from the 5 Stars Movement commented on the case of the Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh who was brave enough inquire on the North-Stream sabotage.
There is a lot of talk about freedom of the press and recently in Rome with the Stella Assange .

Isn’t it a bit odd that countries like the United States, where there should really be freedom of the press at the highest level, are then the ones that create situations like Assange’s, doesn’t it surprise you a bit as a lawyer?
Actually it shocks and saddens me a lot, these countries that so much fly the flag of freedom should instead doubt internally their own democratic system. Julian Assange, we must remember, is a journalist, who has simply done his job, which others have not done out of fear, that is to say, he has informed us and therefore defended our right to know, he has fought for us, to know what were war crimes, victims, killings, especially against defenceless people in what were international conflicts, Afghanistan, Iraq, and thanks to him we have come to know about real massacres. Then he is not a spy, he has not been subjected to any trial, but he has been deprived of his freedom for twelve years.

That is, Julian Assange can no longer walk free in the streets. And why is this? Why do they want to annihilate Julian Assange?
Because he has revealed information that we all needed to know, to know not 30 to 40 years later, when no traces or truths are lost, it is difficult to find out. He has revealed these crimes in real time, while these conflicts were taking place, and thus highlighting behind them, superpowers who finance weapons and in a business of course, who want and get rich from war, and this is obviously unacceptable to those who have always wanted to keep these unspeakable truths hidden.

He was quoted yesterday with the news that we read, what is his comment on this second case, which is a crazy case, practically this journalist being isolated, and then today we have this news, which is news that in part confirms what you, as the Five Star Movement, have been fighting so hard to achieve in terms of truth in this dossier?
Yes, we are actually fighting for the truth and above all we are fighting alongside those who defend freedom of information. Obviously, this is a case that is in fact identical in all respects to Assange, because here too are those truths that should not be spoken about, that should be put our heads in the sand, of which obviously, if they emerge there is the most powerful weapon, namely isolation, delegitimisation, denigrating the person in order to make him or her not credible and consequently not trustworthy to public opinion and citizens, we have to counter this by obviously studying, informing ourselves, touching directly with those who carry out these investigations, those who make these enquiries, and above all defending these people to the sword because it is thanks to them that we can get information that would otherwise leave us with our heads in the sand.

There were some hope in the Biden administration with the change from Trump to Biden that something would improve, but in reality we are, shall we say at the same level?
We are at square one, nothing has actually changed we have to say. Just as I don’t see a revolution on the part of the entire European Union, even at the international level, there is no reaction such as to put the issue of freedom of the press, of Julian Assange’s freedom at the very top of the political attention.
There is also another journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner Hersh, who was recently attacked in his home country over the North Stream case.

So did the information you got on Hersh surprise you? How did it leave you? Because obviously this is one of the topics that will be in the next few years there is also an ecological catastrophe there are so many consequences from this?

Absolutely, what it has left me with is a lot of strength inside to fight together with all the journalists who are fighting for the truth to fight alongside them, to petition in parliamentary chambers to get their voices across, to network with the whole of society because we need a great network, teamwork to defend rights, because we are in a democracy and we have fought and must continue to fight to not lose these rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom to be properly informed.

To be more complete we added then the comments on this matter by Alessandro Di Battista ex- parliamentarian of the 5 Star Movement and Journalist for the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano. In a public speech I said that it seemed strange to me that the Russians were responsible for the explosion of the gas pipeline because all they had to do was turn off the tap and there was no need to sabotage it, then I reconstructed a series of statements by President Biden and Victoria Nuland, by Biden at the White House made in front of German Chancellor Scholz.
However, it is unbelievable that a journalist who won the Pulitzer revealing North American crimes in Vietnam is treated in this way. They ask what his sources are as if secrecy of sources is not a right of journalists, good thing Seymour Hersh wrote that report.
And to end here the interesting remarks by Maddalena Oliva Deputy editor of Il Fatto Quotidiano.

You recently reported the case of Seymour Hersh who was accused the US of sabotaging the North- Stream Pipeline, could this be a second worrying case?

The violence of the reaction changes, in the Assange and Snowden cases the mass of published documents prevented anyone from seeing the reality. The Hersh case is very different because, unfortunately, over the years our level of research and accuracy of journalistic truths has dropped a lot.
Then in the Hersh case there was a process of delegitimisation linked to the fact that first of all it is peculiar that an award-winning journalist like him does not have a mainstream newspaper and has to publish on a social platform. This is because the mainstream newspapers no longer gave space to journalists like him, and I go so far as to say ‘if I went back to the New York Times I would no longer feel at home’. Journalists are then subjected to processes of delegitimisation that are based in Hersh’s case in a total questioning of his journalistic work, they have begun to make a process right from social media trying to delegitimise his sources. Today, but no longer put in jail, it is much more convenient to isolate and silence.

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