A personal note - As a
writer and radio host, I'm often asked why I don't discuss good news.
My answer is when I find some I will. Today I did, and here it is.
Two previous articles discussed suppressing free expression in Greece.
Targeting dissent and media freedom continues.
Journalists revealing information government authorities want suppressed
are suspended, fired, and/or arrested and prosecuted.
Costas Vaxevanis and Spiros Karatzaferis were targeted. Karatzaferis
remains in custody on libel charges. He claimed to have information
on how Greece manipulated its deficit to seek bailout help at the expense
of ordinary people.
He said he'd present it on air October 31. He was arrested to prevent
him from doing it. He added that he wasn't apprehended for having the
information. Authorities used an old warrant against him.
It related to accusations he made against judges. He accused them of
trying to form a para-state outside government. "I am being condemned
for libel," he said. He added that he'll go to jail before paying a
fine if assessed one. He may end up there.
Vaxevanis was arrested for publishing the "Lagarde List." It contained
names of 2,059 wealthy Greeks with secret HSBC Swiss accounts.
Secreting wealth offshore in tax havens makes them suspect. Vaxevanis
and former Greek finance minister George Papaconstantinou wanted them
investigated for possible criminality.
Current Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos did nothing. Papaconstantinou
said authorities didn't act because they're covering for elite tax cheats.
Greece is notorious for high-level ones. Its longstanding system is
"broken and corrupt," he added.
Vaxevanis was arrested, brought to Athens magistrate court for a hearing,
released pending trial, then rushed through one on November 1.
Initially it was scheduled for later. Perhaps a national uproar got
it moved up to dispense with it quickly. A packed court watched it.
All's far from well in Greece, but ended that way for Vaxevanis. Lawyers
representing him convinced judges that accusations against him were
On November 1, the London Guardian headlined "Greek editor Kostas Vaxevanis
acquitted over Swiss bank list."
Before testifying in his own defense, he said:
"My job is simply to tell the news and tell it straight. My job is to
tell the truth." In Athens magistrate court, proceedings took 12 hours.
A "three-member panel of judges (presided) stony-faced throughout" them.
Prosecutor Iraklis Pasalidis called no witnesses. Symbolically it confirmed
baseless state accusations. Nonetheless, he argued that Vaxevanis should
be convicted of violating state privacy laws and defamation without
proof of guilt. Judges didn't buy it.
Vaxevanis was vindicated. He was acquitted and freed. Relieved, he said:
"Journalism for far too long has been a hostage to political forces
that don’t allow it to work. This decision sets a precedent that allows
my colleagues to do their jobs without political handcuffs."
"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything
else is public relations. As such it was my duty to reveal this list."
"The political system has been hiding the truth for so long."
"It is quite clear the political system did everything not to publish
this list. If you look at the names, or the offshore companies linked
to certain individuals, you see that these are all friends of those
in power. Phony lists had also begun to circulate. It was time for the
"We live in a country where, on the one hand, tax evasion is rampant
and, on the other, people are eating out of rubbish trucks because of
salary cuts, because they can't make ends meet."
Attorney Nikos Kostantopouloulos represented Vaxevanis. "We have a schizophrenic
situation," he said, "where, on the one hand, a journalist is being
penalized for revealing a document in the interests of informing public
opinion and, on the other, the parliament itself is now saying the handling
of the list should be investigated."
"Right down to the way the prosecutor so hastily issued the charge sheet
without even bothering to stamp it, it has been handled very badly.
Furthermore, none of those on the list have even filed a complaint about
International Federation of Journalists president Jim Boumela flew from
London to testify for Vaxevanis. He's a national hero. Exonerated, he's
free. If convicted and imprisoned, he'd have risen to martyr status.
Transparency International co-founder, Frank Vogl, said Greece's government
"Internationally, the case will serve as a blunt reminder to Greece’s
international official creditors that it is hopeless to accept the pledges
of the Greek authorities that they will sharply curb their budget deficit
so long as they fail to act meaningfully against corruption and tax
Now the bad news.
America's Justice Department bagged another innocent victim. It specializes
in creating terror plots, not busting them. At issue is lawless FBI
entrapment. It's happened so many times before. US prisons are filled
with men and women who should be free.
Confining them to gulag incarceration constitutes police state injustice.
Tyrannical regimes prioritize it. They never say they're sorry. They're
too preoccupied bagging others on the false pretext of fighting terrorism.
America is the world's leading terror state. No one's safe anywhere
domestically or abroad. Guilt by accusation is policy. Innocence is
no defense. That's how police states operate.
In September 2011, Rezwan Ferdaus was indicted on six counts. They included
alleged plans to attack the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, as well as provide
aid to a foreign terrorist organization.
At the time, National Lawyers Guild president Heidi Boghosian said,
"It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases.
Would this person have conceived or executed" anything without FBI involvement?
Council on American-Islamic Relations' Ibrahim Hooper said, "There is
a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot
initiated by a suspect, and it seems this (likely was) initiated by
On November 1, the FBI's Boston Division headlined "Man Sentenced in
Boston for Plotting Attack on Pentagon and US Capitol and Attempting
to Provide Detonation Devices to Terrorists," saying:
Rezwan Ferdaus was sentenced to "17 years in prison, to be followed
by 10 years of supervised release."
On July 20, 2012, he was pressured to accept a plea bargain guilty plea
despite having committed no crime or planning one. In return, four charges
were dropped. None should have been made in the first place.
Prosecutorial pressure is unprincipled. Ferdaus perhaps was told either
take 17 years or face life in prison without parole or perhaps the death
penalty. Terrified victims, often poorly represented, choose the lesser
of two bad options.
Ferdaus is 27 years old. If he survives, he'll be middle-aged when released.
Hampered by a criminal record, his future prospects will be grim.
Charges against him are absurd. He was convicted of plotting to blow
up the Pentagon "by means of an improvised explosive device (IED) using
The alleged plot sounded more like a bad film script. No self-respecting
producer would touch it. Ferdaus will spend some of his best years in
At issue is lawless entrapment. Paid informants are used. Witnesses
are paid to lie. Secret evidence unavailable to defense attorneys is
used. Muslims are America's target of choice.
Praying to the wrong God is hazardous. War on terror targeting snares
unsuspecting victims. Media scoundrels convict them in the court of
public opinion. Justice is denied every time.
On November 2, Reuters headlined "Massachusetts man sentenced to 17
years after FBI terrorism sting," saying:
Ferdaus was convicted for planning to use "remote-control(led) model
airplanes" to blow up the Pentagon. Reading from a two-page statement,
"I, the other, the uniquely dressed, the lone man in these hours, I
speak of humanity. No dehumanization can serve as justification for
inhumanity in other places."
He left unexplained what he meant. Judge Richard Stearns said, "Your
statement convinced me that you have the character and capacity to search
your own soul."
Non-Mainstream News headlined:
"FREE REZWAN FERDAUS. Day 400 of Solitary Confinement. Arrested on September
28, 2011, and Accused of a Terror Plot 'Orchestrated and Facilitated
by the Government."
His mother, Ana Maria Ferdaus, told reporters, "My son is innocent.
We are the best family that America will ever have….Investigate your
Public defender Miriam Conrad said Ferdaus had no interest in terrorism.
FBI operatives manipulated him.
"There was no evidence ever produced that (he) sought out contact with
any outside groups before the government became involved or even after
the government became involved," she said.
She added that prior to his arrest, he got psychiatric help for depression
and anxiety. His parents said he became depressed during his senior
college year. In 2009, they thought he was mentally ill.
They urged him to seek professional help. At first he refused. They
added, "We took a very cautious approach. After all, he was over 18
and we could not force him to see a doctor….We felt helpless."
Ferdaus was a 2008 Northeastern University physics graduate. On November
1, NU's The Huntington News discussed him perfunctorily.
Instead of explaining FBI entrapment, it regurgitated prosecutorial
charges and 17 year prison sentence. What should have been explained
There was no plot, crime or intention to commit one. Ferdaus was entrapped,
manipulated, and pressured to accept a plea bargain guilty plea.
Another innocent victim of America's war on terror will spend some of
his best years in prison. Given his depressed state, he may not survive
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized
Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
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