03 Sep 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 03 Sep 2020 n° 100/2020 United Kingdom

Investigative Media Outlet "Declassified UK" Blacklisted by the Ministry of Defence

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
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On the morning of 25 August 2020, journalist Phil Miller from the investigative media outlet Declassified UK contacted the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to request a comment about the arrest of Ahmed al Babati, a serving soldier, near Downing Street for protesting the United Kingdom’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen. He received a call back from the MOD and was told that they had “something good to go” and that it would be sent on to Miller shortly.

During the phone call, Miller was asked “What sort of angle have [Declassified UK] taken on the war in Yemen?”. Miller replied: “It’s just very factually documenting British military and defence industry support for the Saudi-led coalition”.

Less than an hour later, Miller received an email telling him that the MOD was not going to send him anything that day, but that he should “submit an FOI [Freedom of Information request] for anything that you require”.

Later that day, when the Telegraph newspaper published their article “Government has 'blood on hands' says serving soldier investigated for protesting against war in Yemen while wearing uniform”, it became evident that the MOD had provided the Telegraph with a comment. Miller called the MOD to enquire as to why Declassified UK were not provided with a comment. He was told: “We no longer deal with your publication”. When Miller asked why, the speaker on the phone told him that he did not know the reason, but that he would find someone who could explain the decision. That contact information was never provided to Miller or Declassified UK.

On 26 August Mark Curtis, editor of Declassified UK, emailed the MOD to seek confirmation that it is now MOD's policy to blacklist Declassified UK . No response was received to that communication. Declassified UK is now considering legal action.
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