industryterm:law enforcement

  • Preserving #privacy in the Age of Facial Recognition
    https://hackernoon.com/preserving-privacy-in-the-age-of-facial-recognition-78ef22647383?source=

    Public anonymity is dead. While that phrase, “public anonymity” may sound like an oxymoron, let me explain: You can no longer walk along a street, visit a store, or attend an event without the possibility that someone — a government entity, a storeowner, or a tech giant — knows that you are there and can track everywhere else you’ve been, simply by your physical appearance.In 2018, facial recognition #technology spent a lot of time in the news. Between Amazon licensing their Rekognition product to law enforcement, the presence of gender and racial bias in some of the current technology, and China’s use of facial recognition to publicly shame jaywalkers, it’s clear that society is facing moral and philosophical questions about who owns and should have access to your physical identity and (...)

    #identity-management #futurism #security


  • New report exposes global reach of powerful governments who equip, finance and train other countries to spy on their populations

    Privacy International has today released a report that looks at how powerful governments are financing, training and equipping countries — including authoritarian regimes — with surveillance capabilities. The report warns that rather than increasing security, this is entrenching authoritarianism.

    Countries with powerful security agencies are spending literally billions to equip, finance, and train security and surveillance agencies around the world — including authoritarian regimes. This is resulting in entrenched authoritarianism, further facilitation of abuse against people, and diversion of resources from long-term development programmes.

    The report, titled ‘Teach ’em to Phish: State Sponsors of Surveillance’ is available to download here.

    Examples from the report include:

    In 2001, the US spent $5.7 billion in security aid. In 2017 it spent over $20 billion [1]. In 2015, military and non-military security assistance in the US amounted to an estimated 35% of its entire foreign aid expenditure [2]. The report provides examples of how US Departments of State, Defense, and Justice all facilitate foreign countries’ surveillance capabilities, as well as an overview of how large arms companies have embedded themselves into such programmes, including at surveillance training bases in the US. Examples provided include how these agencies have provided communications intercept and other surveillance technology, how they fund wiretapping programmes, and how they train foreign spy agencies in surveillance techniques around the world.

    The EU and individual European countries are sponsoring surveillance globally. The EU is already spending billions developing border control and surveillance capabilities in foreign countries to deter migration to Europe. For example, the EU is supporting Sudan’s leader with tens of millions of Euros aimed at capacity building for border management. The EU is now looking to massively increase its expenditure aimed at building border control and surveillance capabilities globally under the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework, which will determine its budget for 2021–2027. Other EU projects include developing the surveillance capabilities of security agencies in Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere. European countries such as France, Germany, and the UK are sponsoring surveillance worldwide, for example, providing training and equipment to “Cyber Police Officers” in Ukraine, as well as to agencies in Saudi Arabia, and across Africa.

    Surveillance capabilities are also being supported by China’s government under the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and other efforts to expand into international markets. Chinese companies have reportedly supplied surveillance capabilities to Bolivia, Venezuela, and Ecuador [3]. In Ecuador, China Electronics Corporation supplied a network of cameras — including some fitted with facial recognition capabilities — to the country’s 24 provinces, as well as a system to locate and identify mobile phones.

    Edin Omanovic, Privacy International’s Surveillance Programme Lead, said

    “The global rush to make sure that surveillance is as universal and pervasive as possible is as astonishing as it is disturbing. The breadth of institutions, countries, agencies, and arms companies that are involved shows how there is no real long-term policy or strategic thinking driving any of this. It’s a free-for-all, where capabilities developed by some of the world’s most powerful spy agencies are being thrown at anyone willing to serve their interests, including dictators and killers whose only goal is to cling to power.

    “If these ‘benefactor’ countries truly want to assist other countries to be secure and stable, they should build schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure, and promote democracy and human rights. This is what communities need for safety, security, and prosperity. What we don’t need is powerful and wealthy countries giving money to arms companies to build border control and surveillance infrastructure. This only serves the interests of those powerful, wealthy countries. As our report shows, instead of putting resources into long-term development solutions, such programmes further entrench authoritarianism and spur abuses around the world — the very things which cause insecurity in the first place.”

    https://privacyinternational.org/press-release/2161/press-release-new-report-exposes-global-reach-powerful-governm

    #surveillance #surveillance_de_masse #rapport

    Pour télécharger le rapport “Teach ’em to Phish: State Sponsors of Surveillance”:
    https://privacyinternational.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Teach-em-to-Phish-report.pdf

    ping @fil

    • China Uses DNA to Track Its People, With the Help of American Expertise

      The Chinese authorities turned to a Massachusetts company and a prominent Yale researcher as they built an enormous system of surveillance and control.

      The authorities called it a free health check. Tahir Imin had his doubts.

      They drew blood from the 38-year-old Muslim, scanned his face, recorded his voice and took his fingerprints. They didn’t bother to check his heart or kidneys, and they rebuffed his request to see the results.

      “They said, ‘You don’t have the right to ask about this,’” Mr. Imin said. “‘If you want to ask more,’ they said, ‘you can go to the police.’”

      Mr. Imin was one of millions of people caught up in a vast Chinese campaign of surveillance and oppression. To give it teeth, the Chinese authorities are collecting DNA — and they got unlikely corporate and academic help from the United States to do it.

      China wants to make the country’s Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, more subservient to the Communist Party. It has detained up to a million people in what China calls “re-education” camps, drawing condemnation from human rights groups and a threat of sanctions from the Trump administration.

      Collecting genetic material is a key part of China’s campaign, according to human rights groups and Uighur activists. They say a comprehensive DNA database could be used to chase down any Uighurs who resist conforming to the campaign.

      Police forces in the United States and elsewhere use genetic material from family members to find suspects and solve crimes. Chinese officials, who are building a broad nationwide database of DNA samples, have cited the crime-fighting benefits of China’s own genetic studies.

      To bolster their DNA capabilities, scientists affiliated with China’s police used equipment made by Thermo Fisher, a Massachusetts company. For comparison with Uighur DNA, they also relied on genetic material from people around the world that was provided by #Kenneth_Kidd, a prominent #Yale_University geneticist.

      On Wednesday, #Thermo_Fisher said it would no longer sell its equipment in Xinjiang, the part of China where the campaign to track Uighurs is mostly taking place. The company said separately in an earlier statement to The New York Times that it was working with American officials to figure out how its technology was being used.

      Dr. Kidd said he had been unaware of how his material and know-how were being used. He said he believed Chinese scientists were acting within scientific norms that require informed consent by DNA donors.

      China’s campaign poses a direct challenge to the scientific community and the way it makes cutting-edge knowledge publicly available. The campaign relies in part on public DNA databases and commercial technology, much of it made or managed in the United States. In turn, Chinese scientists have contributed Uighur DNA samples to a global database, potentially violating scientific norms of consent.

      Cooperation from the global scientific community “legitimizes this type of genetic surveillance,” said Mark Munsterhjelm, an assistant professor at the University of Windsor in Ontario who has closely tracked the use of American technology in Xinjiang.

      Swabbing Millions

      In Xinjiang, in northwestern China, the program was known as “#Physicals_for_All.”

      From 2016 to 2017, nearly 36 million people took part in it, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency. The authorities collected DNA samples, images of irises and other personal data, according to Uighurs and human rights groups. It is unclear whether some residents participated more than once — Xinjiang has a population of about 24.5 million.

      In a statement, the Xinjiang government denied that it collects DNA samples as part of the free medical checkups. It said the DNA machines that were bought by the Xinjiang authorities were for “internal use.”

      China has for decades maintained an iron grip in Xinjiang. In recent years, it has blamed Uighurs for a series of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, including a 2013 incident in which a driver struck two people in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

      In late 2016, the Communist Party embarked on a campaign to turn the Uighurs and other largely Muslim minority groups into loyal supporters. The government locked up hundreds of thousands of them in what it called job training camps, touted as a way to escape poverty, backwardness and radical Islam. It also began to take DNA samples.

      In at least some of the cases, people didn’t give up their genetic material voluntarily. To mobilize Uighurs for the free medical checkups, police and local cadres called or sent them text messages, telling them the checkups were required, according to Uighurs interviewed by The Times.

      “There was a pretty strong coercive element to it,” said Darren Byler, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who studies the plight of the Uighurs. “They had no choice.”

      Calling Dr. Kidd

      Kenneth Kidd first visited China in 1981 and remained curious about the country. So when he received an invitation in 2010 for an expenses-paid trip to visit Beijing, he said yes.

      Dr. Kidd is a major figure in the genetics field. The 77-year-old Yale professor has helped to make DNA evidence more acceptable in American courts.

      His Chinese hosts had their own background in law enforcement. They were scientists from the Ministry of Public Security — essentially, China’s police.

      During that trip, Dr. Kidd met Li Caixia, the chief forensic physician of the ministry’s Institute of Forensic Science. The relationship deepened. In December 2014, Dr. Li arrived at Dr. Kidd’s lab for an 11-month stint. She took some DNA samples back to China.

      “I had thought we were sharing samples for collaborative research,” said Dr. Kidd.

      Dr. Kidd is not the only prominent foreign geneticist to have worked with the Chinese authorities. Bruce Budowle, a professor at the University of North Texas, says in his online biography that he “has served or is serving” as a member of an academic committee at the ministry’s Institute of Forensic Science.

      Jeff Carlton, a university spokesman, said in a statement that Professor Budowle’s role with the ministry was “only symbolic in nature” and that he had “done no work on its behalf.”

      “Dr. Budowle and his team abhor the use of DNA technology to persecute ethnic or religious groups,” Mr. Carlton said in the statement. “Their work focuses on criminal investigations and combating human trafficking to serve humanity.”

      Dr. Kidd’s data became part of China’s DNA drive.

      In 2014, ministry researchers published a paper describing a way for scientists to tell one ethnic group from another. It cited, as an example, the ability to distinguish Uighurs from Indians. The authors said they used 40 DNA samples taken from Uighurs in China and samples from other ethnic groups from Dr. Kidd’s Yale lab.

      In patent applications filed in China in 2013 and 2017, ministry researchers described ways to sort people by ethnicity by screening their genetic makeup. They took genetic material from Uighurs and compared it with DNA from other ethnic groups. In the 2017 filing, researchers explained that their system would help in “inferring the geographical origin from the DNA of suspects at crime scenes.”

      For outside comparisons, they used DNA samples provided by Dr. Kidd’s lab, the 2017 filing said. They also used samples from the 1000 Genomes Project, a public catalog of genes from around the world.

      Paul Flicek, member of the steering committee of the 1000 Genomes Project, said that its data was unrestricted and that “there is no obvious problem” if it was being used as a way to determine where a DNA sample came from.

      The data flow also went the other way.

      Chinese government researchers contributed the data of 2,143 Uighurs to the Allele Frequency Database, an online search platform run by Dr. Kidd that was partly funded by the United States Department of Justice until last year. The database, known as Alfred, contains DNA data from more than 700 populations around the world.

      This sharing of data could violate scientific norms of informed consent because it is not clear whether the Uighurs volunteered their DNA samples to the Chinese authorities, said Arthur Caplan, the founding head of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s School of Medicine. He said that “no one should be in a database without express consent.”

      “Honestly, there’s been a kind of naïveté on the part of American scientists presuming that other people will follow the same rules and standards wherever they come from,” Dr. Caplan said.

      Dr. Kidd said he was “not particularly happy” that the ministry had cited him in its patents, saying his data shouldn’t be used in ways that could allow people or institutions to potentially profit from it. If the Chinese authorities used data they got from their earlier collaborations with him, he added, there is little he can do to stop them.

      He said he was unaware of the filings until he was contacted by The Times.

      Dr. Kidd also said he considered his collaboration with the ministry to be no different from his work with police and forensics labs elsewhere. He said governments should have access to data about minorities, not just the dominant ethnic group, in order to have an accurate picture of the whole population.

      As for the consent issue, he said the burden of meeting that standard lay with the Chinese researchers, though he said reports about what Uighurs are subjected to in China raised some difficult questions.

      “I would assume they had appropriate informed consent on the samples,” he said, “though I must say what I’ve been hearing in the news recently about the treatment of the Uighurs raises concerns.”
      Machine Learning

      In 2015, Dr. Kidd and Dr. Budowle spoke at a genomics conference in the Chinese city of Xi’an. It was underwritten in part by Thermo Fisher, a company that has come under intense criticism for its equipment sales in China, and Illumina, a San Diego company that makes gene sequencing instruments. Illumina did not respond to requests for comment.

      China is ramping up spending on health care and research. The Chinese market for gene-sequencing equipment and other technologies was worth $1 billion in 2017 and could more than double in five years, according to CCID Consulting, a research firm. But the Chinese market is loosely regulated, and it isn’t always clear where the equipment goes or to what uses it is put.

      Thermo Fisher sells everything from lab instruments to forensic DNA testing kits to DNA mapping machines, which help scientists decipher a person’s ethnicity and identify diseases to which he or she is particularly vulnerable. China accounted for 10 percent of Thermo Fisher’s $20.9 billion in revenue, according to the company’s 2017 annual report, and it employs nearly 5,000 people there.

      “Our greatest success story in emerging markets continues to be China,” it said in the report.

      China used Thermo Fisher’s equipment to map the genes of its people, according to five Ministry of Public Security patent filings.

      The company has also sold equipment directly to the authorities in Xinjiang, where the campaign to control the Uighurs has been most intense. At least some of the equipment was intended for use by the police, according to procurement documents. The authorities there said in the documents that the machines were important for DNA inspections in criminal cases and had “no substitutes in China.”

      In February 2013, six ministry researchers credited Thermo Fisher’s Applied Biosystems brand, as well as other companies, with helping to analyze the DNA samples of Han, Uighur and Tibetan people in China, according to a patent filing. The researchers said understanding how to differentiate between such DNA samples was necessary for fighting terrorism “because these cases were becoming more difficult to crack.”

      The researchers said they had obtained 95 Uighur DNA samples, some of which were given to them by the police. Other samples were provided by Uighurs voluntarily, they said.

      Thermo Fisher was criticized by Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and others who asked the Commerce Department to prohibit American companies from selling technology to China that could be used for purposes of surveillance and tracking.

      On Wednesday, Thermo Fisher said it would stop selling its equipment in Xinjiang, a decision it said was “consistent with Thermo Fisher’s values, ethics code and policies.”

      “As the world leader in serving science, we recognize the importance of considering how our products and services are used — or may be used — by our customers,” it said.

      Human rights groups praised Thermo Fisher’s move. Still, they said, equipment and information flows into China should be better monitored, to make sure the authorities elsewhere don’t send them to Xinjiang.

      “It’s an important step, and one hopes that they apply the language in their own statement to commercial activity across China, and that other companies are assessing their sales and operations, especially in Xinjiang,” said Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch.

      American lawmakers and officials are taking a hard look at the situation in Xinjiang. The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese officials and companies over China’s treatment of the Uighurs.

      China’s tracking campaign unnerved people like Tahir Hamut. In May 2017, the police in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang drew the 49-year-old Uighur’s blood, took his fingerprints, recorded his voice and took a scan of his face. He was called back a month later for what he was told was a free health check at a local clinic.

      Mr. Hamut, a filmmaker who is now living in Virginia, said he saw between 20 to 40 Uighurs in line. He said it was absurd to think that such frightened people had consented to submit their DNA.

      “No one in this situation, not under this much pressure and facing such personal danger, would agree to give their blood samples for research,” Mr. Hamut said. “It’s just inconceivable.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/business/china-xinjiang-uighur-dna-thermo-fisher.html?action=click&module=MoreInSect
      #USA #Etats-Unis #ADN #DNA #Ouïghours #université #science #génétique #base_de_données



  • Opioid Lawsuits Are Headed to Trial. Here’s Why the Stakes Are Getting Uglier. - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/health/opioid-lawsuits-settlement-trial.html

    Uncontested: The devastation from prescription opioids has been deadly and inordinately expensive.

    Contested: Who should foot the bill?

    Just over a year ago, opioid lawsuits against makers and distributors of the painkillers were proliferating so rapidly that a judicial panel bundled all the federal cases under the stewardship of a single judge. On a January morning, Judge Dan Aaron Polster of the Northern District of Ohio made his opening remarks to lawyers for nearly 200 municipal governments gathered in his Cleveland courtroom. He wanted the national opioid crisis resolved with a meaningful settlement within a year, proclaiming, “We don’t need briefs and we don’t need trials.”

    That year is up.

    Far from being settled, the litigation has ballooned to 1,548 federal court cases, brought on behalf of cities and counties, 77 tribes, hospitals, union benefit funds, infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome and others — in total, millions of people. With a potential payday amounting to tens of billions of dollars, it has become one of the most complicated and gargantuan legal battles in American history.

    With settlement talks sputtering, the judge has signed off on a parallel track involving, yes, briefs, focused on, yes, trial. He will preside over three consolidated Ohio lawsuits in what is known as a “bellwether,” or test case. The array of defendants include Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt PLC, CVS RX Services Inc. and Cardinal Health, Inc. That jury’s verdict could determine whether the parties will then negotiate in earnest or keep fighting.

    The plaintiffs have long said that the companies deliberately looked the other way at the improbable quantities. But the lawyers did not have the hard numbers in hand to bolster their claims.

    Now they do.

    For the time being, the judge will not release the data to the public. But a passage from a congressional report gives a sense of the granular information in the data: during 10 months in 2007, one distributor, McKesson, shipped three million prescription opioids to a single pharmacy in a West Virginia town with 400 residents.

    Typically, patients who sue for medical malpractice or product liability must turn over their own medical records as proof. They forfeit conventional privacy rights.

    Here, the overwhelming majority of plaintiffs are government entities, not individuals. They are seeking to be reimbursed for the accumulated costs of drug addiction and its collateral damage. The defendants want them to produce precise evidence showing how those costs are calculated, including the chain of events — for example, from a drug’s development, to its delivery, to a pharmacy-filled prescription to, eventually, bills from hospitals and others.
    What on Earth Is Going On?

    That means the drug industry is asking for patients’ records and for every prescription the plaintiffs deemed medically “suspicious.” The plaintiffs are pushing back, saying that the depleted municipal budgets for health, social services and law enforcement paint a more telling picture.

    Why drug companies could have an upper hand

    Lawyers on both sides agree: This litigation presents a slew of novel legal issues.

    If the bellwether ends in a victory for plaintiffs, appeals courts, increasingly filled with conservative judges, would be unlikely to uphold all of Judge Polster’s rulings on these untested legal questions, much less a whopping, emotional jury award. Complexity favors the defense.

    And in settlement negotiations, the long game is the defense’s best friend: they can afford to drag this out. Typically, the longer it slogs on, the more the final tab gets driven down.

    #Opioides #Procès


  • Use of Force in France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Fuels Anger
    The New York Times - By Elian Peltier - Jan. 28, 2019
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/28/world/europe/france-yellow-vests-police.html

    (...) Since violent clashes began in November, 11 people have died, and 1,900 protesters and 1,200 law enforcement officers have been injured, according to the Interior Ministry. Independent counts by the newspaper Libération and the journalist David Dufresne say that 109 protesters have been seriously injured, including 18 who have become blind in one eye and four who have lost a hand. (...)

    @davduf


  • 3 Officers Acquitted of Covering Up for Colleague in Laquan McDonald Killing - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/us/laquan-mcdonald-officers-acquitted.html

    CHICAGO — Three Chicago police officers were acquitted on Thursday of charges that they had conspired and lied to protect a white police officer who fired 16 deadly shots into a black teenager, a contentious verdict in a case over what many viewed as a “code of silence” in the Police Department.

    The judgment, rendered in a tense, cramped courtroom overflowing with spectators, was delivered by a judge and not a jury. Speaking from the bench for close to an hour, Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson rejected the prosecutors’ arguments that the officers had shooed away witnesses and then created a narrative to justify the 2014 shooting, which prompted citywide protests, the firing of the police chief and a wide-ranging federal investigation into the police force.

    The ruling came more than three months after Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted in October of the second-degree murder of Laquan McDonald, and on the afternoon before he was scheduled to be sentenced for a killing that was captured on an infamous police dashboard camera video.

    The three police officers — David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney — contradicted what the video showed. In it, Mr. Van Dyke fires repeatedly at Laquan, who is wielding a knife, as he moves slightly away from the officers and even as he lies crumpled on the ground. Prosecutors cited that footage repeatedly as they built a case against the officers, who are white, on charges of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice.

    Et cette merveilleuse pénétration des « faits alternatifs » dans le domaine de la preuve juridique :

    Judge Stephenson said that even though the officers’ accounts of the shooting differed from the video, that did not amount to proof that they were lying. “Two people with two different vantage points can witness the same event,” she said, and still describe it differently.

    La mafia (FOP ?) attend le jugement d’une complice dans l’appareil (ou de quelqu’un tenu) :

    It was “undisputed and undeniable,” Judge Stephenson said, that Laquan had ignored officers’ commands to drop his knife. While she spoke, the three officers sat silently, sometimes staring down at the carpet or nervously jiggling a leg. After she read the verdict, several people broke into applause.

    On croit rêver !!! Police partout, justice nulle part. Des applaudissements dans un tribunal !. La mafia...

    “There was clearly evidence from the video that Laquan McDonald was not attacking or seeking to attack any of the law enforcement officers,” Mr. Finney said. “How could they all three make up a story indicating that Laquan was threatening their lives?”

    Si cela ne vous rappelle pas les excuses de ce policier de Toulon qui vient d’être décoré de la légion d’honneur, et l’attitude du procureur en France, c’est que vous passez à côté d’un phénomène majeur : l’autonomisation de la police dans le monde entier, avec l’Amérique et son soft power (livres, films,...) comme modèle.

    There were no protests after the verdicts were read, and William Calloway, a prominent Chicago activist who is running for City Council, urged Chicagoans to refrain. “To the black community, I know this hurts,” he said on Twitter. “We know this was a cover-up. I’m not saying take to the streets anymore. It’s time for us to take to the polls.”

    “That blue code of silence is just not with the Chicago Police Department: It expands to the judicial system,” Mr. Calloway said at a news conference.

    On Friday morning, the courts are scheduled for the final chapter in the Laquan case — a killing that came amid national protests and a spate of police shootings of black people. A Facebook group implored a “call to action”: “In room 500 at 9 a.m., show up to stand in solidarity with organizers and the family of Laquan McDonald as we demand, again, #Justice4Laquan.”

    #faits_alternatifs #Police #Justice


  • Morocco’s Crackdown Won’t Silence Dissent – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/16/moroccos-crackdown-wont-silence-dissent-maroc-hirak-amdh


    A Moroccan draped in the Berber, or Amazigh, flag shouts slogans while marching during a protest against the jailing of Al-Hirak or “Popular Movement” activists in the capital Rabat on July 15, 2018.
    (FADEL SENNA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

    When she joined the National Union of Moroccan Students in 1978, Khadija Ryadi knew she’d face hardship. “At that time,” she recalled, “we were constantly followed by the police.” But today, she told me, life may be even harder. “Now not only are we followed but we are also listened to and photographed, and everywhere. The repression has remained, but the instruments have changed. I never feel at ease.

    Recently, Ryadi, who was the president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (also known by its French acronym, AMDH) from 2007 to 2013 and won a United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 2013, has raised eyebrows. In interviews with me, she denounced “a return to the Years of Lead”—a reference to the decades of harsh oppression in the 1960s to 1990s under Morocco’s King Hassan II.

    Today’s repression may be much less brutal, but just denouncing the recent crackdown could land critics in jail. Indeed, in recent months, human rights defenders have pointed to a major rise in harassment, arrests, and police violence against activists. One of them, Abdellah Lefnatsa, said that “achievements such as freedom of expression [and] the right to protest” have started to be rolled back. Over the last two years, over a thousand people have been jailed on politically related chargesOver the last two years, over a thousand people have been jailed on politically related charges, according to Youssef Raissouni, an executive director at AMDH and a member of the leftist party Annahj Addimocrati (The Democratic Way).

    Beyond the big names, there are people like Nawal Benaissa, a 37-year-old mother of four who has been arrested four times for her involvement in protests denouncing corruption and demanding jobs, hospitals, and schools as part of the so-called #Hirak movement, which began in the country’s northern #Rif region after a fishmonger was crushed to death in a garbage truck in October 2016 while trying to reclaim fish that local authorities had taken from him.

    The official charges against her were participating in an unregistered demonstration, insulting law enforcement officers, and inciting others to commit criminal offenses. Last February, she was given a suspended 10-month sentence and handed a fine of 500 dirhams (about $50).

    #Maroc

    • Inculpée de participation à une manifestation non déclarée, outrage à agents de la force publique et incitation à la violence, elle a été condamnée à 10 mois avec sursis et une amende de 50 euros.

      C’est au sursis qu’on voit bien qu’on est au Maroc et pas dans une grande démocratie occidentale.


  • Pan Am Flight 103 : Robert Mueller’s 30-Year Search for Justice | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/robert-muellers-search-for-justice-for-pan-am-103

    Cet article décrit le rôle de Robert Mueller dans l’enquête historique qui a permis de dissimuler ou de justifier la plupart des batailles de la guerre non déclarée des États Unis contre l’OLP et les pays arabes qui soutenaient la lutte pour un état palestinien.

    Aux États-Unis, en Allemagne et en France le grand public ignore les actes de guerre commis par les États Unis dans cette guerre. Vu dans ce contexte on ne peut que classer le récit de cet article dans la catégorie idéologie et propagande même si les intentions et faits qu’on y apprend sont bien documentés et plausibles.

    Cette perspective transforme le contenu de cet article d’une variation sur un thème connu dans un reportage sur l’état d’âme des dirigeants étatsuniens moins fanatiques que l’équipe du président actuel.

    THIRTY YEARS AGO last Friday, on the darkest day of the year, 31,000 feet above one of the most remote parts of Europe, America suffered its first major terror attack.

    TEN YEARS AGO last Friday, then FBI director Robert Mueller bundled himself in his tan trench coat against the cold December air in Washington, his scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. Sitting on a small stage at Arlington National Cemetery, he scanned the faces arrayed before him—the victims he’d come to know over years, relatives and friends of husbands and wives who would never grow old, college students who would never graduate, business travelers and flight attendants who would never come home.

    Burned into Mueller’s memory were the small items those victims had left behind, items that he’d seen on the shelves of a small wooden warehouse outside Lockerbie, Scotland, a visit he would never forget: A teenager’s single white sneaker, an unworn Syracuse University sweatshirt, the wrapped Christmas gifts that would never be opened, a lonely teddy bear.

    A decade before the attacks of 9/11—attacks that came during Mueller’s second week as FBI director, and that awoke the rest of America to the threats of terrorism—the bombing of Pan Am 103 had impressed upon Mueller a new global threat.

    It had taught him the complexity of responding to international terror attacks, how unprepared the government was to respond to the needs of victims’ families, and how on the global stage justice would always be intertwined with geopolitics. In the intervening years, he had never lost sight of the Lockerbie bombing—known to the FBI by the codename Scotbom—and he had watched the orphaned children from the bombing grow up over the years.

    Nearby in the cemetery stood a memorial cairn made of pink sandstone—a single brick representing each of the victims, the stone mined from a Scottish quarry that the doomed flight passed over just seconds before the bomb ripped its baggage hold apart. The crowd that day had gathered near the cairn in the cold to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

    For a man with an affinity for speaking in prose, not poetry, a man whose staff was accustomed to orders given in crisp sentences as if they were Marines on the battlefield or under cross-examination from a prosecutor in a courtroom, Mueller’s remarks that day soared in a way unlike almost any other speech he’d deliver.

    “There are those who say that time heals all wounds. But you know that not to be true. At its best, time may dull the deepest wounds; it cannot make them disappear,” Mueller told the assembled mourners. “Yet out of the darkness of this day comes a ray of light. The light of unity, of friendship, and of comfort from those who once were strangers and who are now bonded together by a terrible moment in time. The light of shared memories that bring smiles instead of sadness. And the light of hope for better days to come.”

    He talked of Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and of inspiration drawn from Lockerbie’s town crest, with its simple motto, “Forward.” He spoke of what was then a two-decade-long quest for justice, of how on windswept Scottish mores and frigid lochs a generation of FBI agents, investigators, and prosecutors had redoubled their dedication to fighting terrorism.

    Mueller closed with a promise: “Today, as we stand here together on this, the darkest of days, we renew that bond. We remember the light these individuals brought to each of you here today. We renew our efforts to bring justice down on those who seek to harm us. We renew our efforts to keep our people safe, and to rid the world of terrorism. We will continue to move forward. But we will never forget.”

    Hand bells tolled for each of the victims as their names were read aloud, 270 names, 270 sets of bells.

    The investigation, though, was not yet closed. Mueller, although he didn’t know it then, wasn’t done with Pan Am 103. Just months after that speech, the case would test his innate sense of justice and morality in a way that few other cases in his career ever have.

    ROBERT S. MUELLER III had returned from a combat tour in Vietnam in the late 1960s and eventually headed to law school at the University of Virginia, part of a path that he hoped would lead him to being an FBI agent. Unable after graduation to get a job in government, he entered private practice in San Francisco, where he found he loved being a lawyer—just not a defense attorney.

    Then—as his wife Ann, a teacher, recounted to me years ago—one morning at their small home, while the two of them made the bed, Mueller complained, “Don’t I deserve to be doing something that makes me happy?” He finally landed a job as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco and stood, for the first time, in court and announced, “Good morning your Honor, I am Robert Mueller appearing on behalf of the United States of America.” It is a moment that young prosecutors often practice beforehand, and for Mueller those words carried enormous weight. He had found the thing that made him happy.

    His family remembers that time in San Francisco as some of their happiest years; the Muellers’ two daughters were young, they loved the Bay Area—and have returned there on annual vacations almost every year since relocating to the East Coast—and Mueller found himself at home as a prosecutor.

    On Friday nights, their routine was that Ann and the two girls would pick Mueller up at Harrington’s Bar & Grill, the city’s oldest Irish pub, not far from the Ferry Building in the Financial District, where he hung out each week with a group of prosecutors, defense attorneys, cops, and agents. (One Christmas, his daughter Cynthia gave him a model of the bar made out of Popsicle sticks.) He balanced that family time against weekends and trainings with the Marines Corps Reserves, where he served for more than a decade, until 1980, eventually rising to be a captain.

    Over the next 15 years, he rose through the ranks of the San Francisco US attorney’s office—an office he would return to lead during the Clinton administration—and then decamped to Massachusetts to work for US attorney William Weld in the 1980s. There, too, he shined and eventually became acting US attorney when Weld departed at the end of the Reagan administration. “You cannot get the words straight arrow out of your head,” Weld told me, speaking of Mueller a decade ago. “The agencies loved him because he knew his stuff. He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy, he just put the cards on the table.”

    In 1989, an old high school classmate, Robert Ross, who was chief of staff to then attorney general Richard Thornburgh, asked Mueller to come down to Washington to help advise Thornburgh. The offer intrigued Mueller. Ann protested the move—their younger daughter Melissa wanted to finish high school in Massachusetts. Ann told her husband, “We can’t possibly do this.” He replied, his eyes twinkling, “You’re right, it’s a terrible time. Well, why don’t we just go down and look at a few houses?” As she told me, “When he wants to do something, he just revisits it again and again.”

    For his first two years at so-called Main Justice in Washington, working under President George H.W. Bush, the family commuted back and forth from Boston to Washington, alternating weekends in each city, to allow Melissa to finish school.

    Washington gave Mueller his first exposure to national politics and cases with geopolitical implications; in September 1990, President Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general, overseeing the Justice Department’s entire criminal division, which at that time handled all the nation’s terrorism cases as well. Mueller would oversee the prosecution of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, mob boss John Gotti, and the controversial investigation into a vast money laundering scheme run through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals

    None of his cases in Washington, though, would affect him as much as the bombing of Pan Am 103.

    THE TIME ON the clocks in Lockerbie, Scotland, read 7:04 pm, on December 21, 1988, when the first emergency call came into the local fire brigade, reporting what sounded like a massive boiler explosion. It was technically early evening, but it had been dark for hours already; that far north, on the shortest day of the year, daylight barely stretched to eight hours.

    Soon it became clear something much worse than a boiler explosion had unfolded: Fiery debris pounded the landscape, plunging from the sky and killing 11 Lockerbie residents. As Mike Carnahan told a local TV reporter, “The whole sky was lit up with flames. It was actually raining, liquid fire. You could see several houses on the skyline with the roofs totally off and all you could see was flaming timbers.”

    At 8:45 pm, a farmer found in his field the cockpit of Pan Am 103, a Boeing 747 known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, lying on its side, 15 of its crew dead inside, just some of the 259 passengers and crew killed when a bomb had exploded inside the plane’s cargo hold. The scheduled London to New York flight never even made it out of the UK.

    It had taken just three seconds for the plane to disintegrate in the air, though the wreckage took three long minutes to fall the five miles from the sky to the earth; court testimony later would examine how passengers had still been alive as they fell. Nearly 200 of the passengers were American, including 35 students from Syracuse University returning home from a semester abroad. The attack horrified America, which until then had seen terror touch its shores only occasionally as a hijacking went awry; while the US had weathered the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, attacks almost never targeted civilians.

    The Pan Am 103 bombing seemed squarely aimed at the US, hitting one of its most iconic brands. Pan Am then represented America’s global reach in a way few companies did; the world’s most powerful airline shuttled 19 million passengers a year to more than 160 countries and had ferried the Beatles to their US tour and James Bond around the globe on his cinematic missions. In a moment of hubris a generation before Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the airline had even opened a “waiting list” for the first tourists to travel to outer space. Its New York headquarters, the Pan Am building, was the world’s largest commercial building and its terminal at JFK Airport the biggest in the world.

    The investigation into the bombing of Pan Am 103 began immediately, as police and investigators streamed north from London by the hundreds; chief constable John Boyd, the head of the local police, arrived at the Lockerbie police station by 8:15 pm, and within an hour the first victim had been brought in: A farmer arrived in town with the body of a baby girl who had fallen from the sky. He’d carefully placed her in the front seat of his pickup truck.

    An FBI agent posted in London had raced north too, with the US ambassador, aboard a special US Air Force flight, and at 2 am, when Boyd convened his first senior leadership meeting, he announced, “The FBI is here, and they are fully operational.” By that point, FBI explosives experts were already en route to Scotland aboard an FAA plane; agents would install special secure communications equipment in Lockerbie and remain on site for months.

    Although it quickly became clear that a bomb had targeted Pan Am 103—wreckage showed signs of an explosion and tested positive for PETN and RDX, two key ingredients of the explosive Semtex—the investigation proceeded with frustrating slowness. Pan Am’s records were incomplete, and it took days to even determine the full list of passengers. At the same time, it was the largest crime scene ever investigated—a fact that remains true today.

    Investigators walked 845 square miles, an area 12 times the size of Washington, DC, and searched so thoroughly that they recovered more than 70 packages of airline crackers and ultimately could reconstruct about 85 percent of the fuselage. (Today, the wreckage remains in an English scrapyard.) Constable Boyd, at his first press conference, told the media, “This is a mammoth inquiry.”

    On Christmas Eve, a searcher found a piece of a luggage pallet with signs of obvious scorching, which would indicate the bomb had been in the luggage compartment below the passenger cabin. The evidence was rushed to a special British military lab—one originally created to investigate the Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605.

    When the explosive tests came back a day later, the British government called the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for combating terrorism, L. Paul Bremer III (who would go on to be President George W. Bush’s viceroy in Baghdad after the 2003 invasion of Iraq), and officially delivered the news that everyone had anticipated: Pan Am 103 had been downed by a bomb.

    Meanwhile, FBI agents fanned out across the country. In New York, special agent Neil Herman—who would later lead the FBI’s counterterrorism office in New York in the run up to 9/11—was tasked with interviewing some of the victims’ families; many of the Syracuse students on board had been from the New York region. One of the mothers he interviewed hadn’t heard from the government in the 10 days since the attack. “It really struck me how ill-equipped we were to deal with this,” Herman told me, years later. “Multiply her by 270 victims and families.” The bombing underscored that the FBI and the US government had a lot to learn in responding and aiding victims in a terror attack.

    INVESTIGATORS MOVED TOWARD piecing together how a bomb could have been placed on board; years before the 9/11 attack, they discounted the idea of a suicide bomber aboard—there had never been a suicide attack on civil aviation at that point—and so focused on one of two theories: The possibility of a “mule,” an innocent passenger duped into carrying a bomb aboard, or an “inside man,” a trusted airport or airline employee who had smuggled the fatal cargo aboard. The initial suspect list stretched to 1,200 names.

    Yet even reconstructing what was on board took an eternity: Evidence pointed to a Japanese manufactured Toshiba cassette recorder as the likely delivery device for the bomb, and then, by the end of January, investigators located pieces of the suitcase that had held the bomb. After determining that it was a Samsonite bag, police and the FBI flew to the company’s headquarters in the United States and narrowed the search further: The bag, they found, was a System 4 Silhouette 4000 model, color “antique-copper,” a case and color made for only three years, 1985 to 1988, and sold only in the Middle East. There were a total of 3,500 such suitcases in circulation.

    By late spring, investigators had identified 14 pieces of luggage inside the target cargo container, known as AVE4041; each bore tell-tale signs of the explosion. Through careful retracing of how luggage moved through the London airport, investigators determined that the bags on the container’s bottom row came from passengers transferring in London. The bags on the second and third row of AVE4041 had been the last bags loaded onto the leg of the flight that began in Frankfurt, before the plane took off for London. None of the baggage had been X-rayed or matched with passengers on board.

    The British lab traced clothing fragments from the wreckage that bore signs of the explosion and thus likely originated in the bomb-carrying suitcase. It was an odd mix: Two herring-bone skirts, men’s pajamas, tartan trousers, and so on. The most promising fragment was a blue infant’s onesie that, after fiber analysis, was conclusively determined to have been inside the explosive case, and had a label saying “Malta Trading Company.” In March, two detectives took off for Malta, where the manufacturer told them that 500 such articles of clothing had been made and most sent to Ireland, while the rest went locally to Maltese outlets and others to continental Europe.

    As they dug deeper, they focused on bag B8849, which appeared to have come off Air Malta Flight 180—Malta to Frankfurt—on December 21, even though there was no record of one of that flight’s 47 passengers transferring to Pan Am 103.

    Investigators located the store in Malta where the suspect clothing had been sold; the British inspector later recorded in his statement, “[Store owner] Anthony Gauci interjected and stated that he could recall selling a pair of the checked trousers, size 34, and three pairs of the pajamas to a male person.” The investigators snapped to attention—after nine months did they finally have a suspect in their sights? “[Gauci] informed me that the man had also purchased the following items: one imitation Harris Tweed jacket; one woolen cardigan; one black umbrella; one blue colored ‘Baby Gro’ with a motif described by the witness as a ‘sheep’s face’ on the front; and one pair of gents’ brown herring-bone material trousers, size 36.”

    Game, set, match. Gauci had perfectly described the clothing fragments found by RARDE technicians to contain traces of explosive. The purchase, Gauci went on to explain, stood out in his mind because the customer—whom Gauci tellingly identified as speaking the “Libyan language”—had entered the store on November 23, 1988, and gathered items without seeming to care about the size, gender, or color of any of it.

    As the investigation painstakingly proceeded into 1989 and 1990, Robert Mueller arrived at Main Justice; the final objects of the Lockerbie search wouldn’t be found until the spring of 1990, just months before Mueller took over as assistant attorney general of the criminal division in September.

    The Justice Department that year was undergoing a series of leadership changes; the deputy attorney general, William Barr, became acting attorney general midyear as Richard Thornburgh stepped down to run for Senate back in his native Pennsylvania. President Bush then nominated Barr to take over as attorney general officially. (Earlier this month Barr was nominated by President Trump to become attorney general once again.)

    The bombing soon became one of the top cases on Mueller’s desk. He met regularly with Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent heading Scotbom. For Mueller, the case became personal; he met with victims’ families and toured the Lockerbie crash site and the investigation’s headquarters. He traveled repeatedly to the United Kingdom for meetings and walked the fields of Lockerbie himself. “The Scots just did a phenomenal job with the crime scene,” he told me, years ago.

    Mueller pushed the investigators forward constantly, getting involved in the investigation at a level that a high-ranking Justice Department official almost never does. Marquise turned to him in one meeting, after yet another set of directions, and sighed, “Geez, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you want to be FBI director.”

    The investigation gradually, carefully, zeroed in on Libya. Agents traced a circuit board used in the bomb to a similar device seized in Africa a couple of years earlier used by Libyan intelligence. An FBI-created database of Maltese immigration records even showed that a man using the same alias as one of those Libyan intelligence officers had departed from Malta on October 19, 1988—just two months before the bombing.

    The circuit board also helped makes sense of an important aspect of the bombing: It controlled a timer, meaning that the bomb was not set off by a barometric trigger that registers altitude. This, in turn, explained why the explosive baggage had lain peacefully in the jet’s hold as it took off and landed repeatedly.

    Tiny letters on the suspect timer said “MEBO.” What was MEBO? In the days before Google, searching for something called “Mebo” required going country to country, company to company. There were no shortcuts. The FBI, MI5, and CIA were, after months of work, able to trace MEBO back to a Swiss company, Meister et Bollier, adding a fifth country to the ever-expanding investigative circle.

    From Meister et Bollier, they learned that the company had provided 20 prototype timers to the Libyan government and the company helped ID their contact as a Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who looked like the sketch of the Maltese clothing shopper. Then, when the FBI looked at its database of Maltese immigration records, they found that Al Megrahi had been present in Malta the day the clothing was purchased.

    Marquise sat down with Robert Mueller and the rest of the prosecutorial team and laid out the latest evidence. Mueller’s orders were clear—he wanted specific suspects and he wanted to bring charges. As he said, “Proceed toward indictment.” Let’s get this case moving.

    IN NOVEMBER 1990, Marquise was placed in charge of all aspects of the investigation and assigned on special duty to the Washington Field Office and moved to a new Scotbom task force. The field offce was located far from the Hoover building, in a run-down neighborhood known by the thoroughly unromantic moniker of Buzzard Point.

    The Scotbom task force had been allotted three tiny windowless rooms with dark wood paneling, which were soon covered floor-to-ceiling with 747 diagrams, crime scene photographs, maps, and other clues. By the door of the office, the team kept two photographs to remind themselves of the stakes: One, a tiny baby shoe recovered from the fields of Lockerbie; the other, a picture of the American flag on the tail of Pan Am 103. This was the first major attack on the US and its civilians. Whoever was responsible couldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    With representatives from a half-dozen countries—the US, Britain, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, France, and Malta—now sitting around the table, putting together a case that met everyone’s evidentiary standards was difficult. “We talked through everything, and everything was always done to the higher standard,” Marquise says. In the US, for instance, the legal standard for a photo array was six photos; in Scotland, though, it was 12. So every photo array in the investigation had 12 photos to ensure that the IDs could be used in a British court.

    The trail of evidence so far was pretty clear, and it all pointed toward Libya. Yet there was still much work to do prior to an indictment. A solid hunch was one thing. Having evidence that would stand up in court and under cross-examination was something else entirely.

    As the case neared an indictment, the international investigators and prosecutors found themselves focusing at their gatherings on the fine print of their respective legal code and engaging in deep, philosophical-seeming debates: “What does murder mean in your statute? Huh? I know what murder means: I kill you. Well, then you start going through the details and the standards are just a little different. It may entail five factors in one country, three in another. Was Megrahi guilty of murder? Depends on the country.”

    At every meeting, the international team danced around the question of where a prosecution would ultimately take place. “Jurisdiction was an eggshell problem,” Marquise says. “It was always there, but no one wanted to talk about it. It was always the elephant in the room.”

    Mueller tried to deflect the debate for as long as possible, arguing there was more investigation to do first. Eventually, though, he argued forcefully that the case should be tried in the US. “I recognize that Scotland has significant equities which support trial of the case in your country,” he said in one meeting. “However, the primary target of this act of terrorism was the United States. The majority of the victims were Americans, and the Pan American aircraft was targeted precisely because it was of United States registry.”

    After one meeting, where the Scots and Americans debated jurisdiction for more than two hours, the group migrated over to the Peasant, a restaurant near the Justice Department, where, in an attempt to foster good spirits, it paid for the visiting Scots. Mueller and the other American officials each had to pay for their own meals.

    Mueller was getting ready to move forward; the federal grand jury would begin work in early September. Prosecutors and other investigators were already preparing background, readying evidence, and piecing together information like the names and nationalities of all the Lockerbie victims so that they could be included in the forthcoming indictment.

    There had never been any doubt in the US that the Pan Am 103 bombing would be handled as a criminal matter, but the case was still closely monitored by the White House and the National Security Council.

    The Reagan administration had been surprised in February 1988 by the indictment on drug charges of its close ally Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and a rule of thumb had been developed: Give the White House a heads up anytime you’re going to indict a foreign agent. “If you tag Libya with Pan Am 103, that’s fair to say it’s going to disrupt our relationship with Libya,” Mueller deadpans. So Mueller would head up to the Cabinet Room at the White House, charts and pictures in hand, to explain to President Bush and his team what Justice had in mind.

    To Mueller, the investigation underscored why such complex investigations needed a law enforcement eye. A few months after the attack, he sat through a CIA briefing pointing toward Syria as the culprit behind the attack. “That’s always struck with me as a lesson in the difference between intelligence and evidence. I always try to remember that,” he told me, back when he was FBI director. “It’s a very good object lesson about hasty action based on intelligence. What if we had gone and attacked Syria based on that initial intelligence? Then, after the attack, it came out that Libya had been behind it? What could we have done?”

    Marquise was the last witness for the federal grand jury on Friday, November 8, 1991. Only in the days leading up to that testimony had prosecutors zeroed in on Megrahi and another Libyan officer, Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah; as late as the week of the testimony, they had hoped to pursue additional indictments, yet the evidence wasn’t there to get to a conviction.

    Mueller traveled to London to meet with the Peter Fraser, the lord advocate—Scotland’s top prosecutor—and they agreed to announce indictments simultaneously on November 15, 1991. Who got their hands on the suspects first, well, that was a question for later. The joint indictment, Mueller believed, would benefit both countries. “It adds credibility to both our investigations,” he says.

    That coordinated joint, multi-nation statement and indictment would become a model that the US would deploy more regularly in the years to come, as the US and other western nations have tried to coordinate cyber investigations and indictments against hackers from countries like North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

    To make the stunning announcement against Libya, Mueller joined FBI director William Sessions, DC US attorney Jay Stephens, and attorney general William Barr.

    “We charge that two Libyan officials, acting as operatives of the Libyan intelligence agency, along with other co-conspirators, planted and detonated the bomb that destroyed Pan Am 103,” Barr said. “I have just telephoned some of the families of those murdered on Pan Am 103 to inform them and the organizations of the survivors that this indictment has been returned. Their loss has been ever present in our minds.”

    At the same time, in Scotland, investigators there were announcing the same indictments.

    At the press conference, Barr listed a long set of names to thank—the first one he singled out was Mueller’s. Then, he continued, “This investigation is by no means over. It continues unabated. We will not rest until all those responsible are brought to justice. We have no higher priority.”

    From there, the case would drag on for years. ABC News interviewed the two suspects in Libya later that month; both denied any responsibility for the bombing. Marquise was reassigned within six months; the other investigators moved along too.

    Mueller himself left the administration when Bill Clinton became president, spending an unhappy year in private practice before rejoining the Justice Department to work as a junior homicide prosecutor in DC under then US attorney Eric Holder; Mueller, who had led the nation’s entire criminal division was now working side by side with prosecutors just a few years out of law school, the equivalent of a three-star military general retiring and reenlisting as a second lieutenant. Clinton eventually named Mueller the US attorney in San Francisco, the office where he’d worked as a young attorney in the 1970s.

    THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the bombing came and went without any justice. Then, in April 1999, prolonged international negotiations led to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi turning over the two suspects; the international economic sanctions imposed on Libya in the wake of the bombing were taking a toll on his country, and the leader wanted to put the incident behind him.

    The final negotiated agreement said that the two men would be tried by a Scottish court, under Scottish law, in The Hague in the Netherlands. Distinct from the international court there, the three-judge Scottish court would ensure that the men faced justice under the laws of the country where their accused crime had been committed.

    Allowing the Scots to move forward meant some concessions by the US. The big one was taking the death penalty, prohibited in Scotland, off the table. Mueller badly wanted the death penalty. Mueller, like many prosecutors and law enforcement officials, is a strong proponent of capital punishment, but he believes it should be reserved for only egregious crimes. “It has to be especially heinous, and you have to be 100 percent sure he’s guilty,” he says. This case met that criteria. “There’s never closure. If there can’t be closure, there should be justice—both for the victims as well as the society at large,” he says.

    An old US military facility, Kamp Van Zeist, was converted to an elaborate jail and courtroom in The Hague, and the Dutch formally surrendered the two Libyans to Scottish police. The trial began in May 2000. For nine months, the court heard testimony from around the world. In what many observers saw as a political verdict, Al Megrahi was found guilty and Fhimah was found not guilty.

    With barely 24 hours notice, Marquise and victim family members raced from the United States to be in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The morning of the verdict in 2001, Mueller was just days into his tenure as acting deputy US attorney general—filling in for the start of the George W. Bush administration in the department’s No. 2 role as attorney general John Ashcroft got himself situated.

    That day, Mueller awoke early and joined with victims’ families and other officials in Washington, who watched the verdict announcement via a satellite hookup. To him, it was a chance for some closure—but the investigation would go on. As he told the media, “The United States remains vigilant in its pursuit to bring to justice any other individuals who may have been involved in the conspiracy to bring down Pan Am Flight 103.”

    The Scotbom case would leave a deep imprint on Mueller; one of his first actions as FBI director was to recruit Kathryn Turman, who had served as the liaison to the Pan Am 103 victim families during the trial, to head the FBI’s Victim Services Division, helping to elevate the role and responsibility of the FBI in dealing with crime victims.

    JUST MONTHS AFTER that 20th anniversary ceremony with Mueller at Arlington National Cemetery, in the summer of 2009, Scotland released a terminally ill Megrahi from prison after a lengthy appeals process, and sent him back to Libya. The decision was made, the Scottish minister of justice reported, on “compassionate grounds.” Few involved on the US side believed the terrorist deserved compassion. Megrahi was greeted as a hero on the tarmac in Libya—rose petals, cheering crowds. The US consensus remained that he should rot in prison.

    The idea that Megrahi could walk out of prison on “compassionate” ground made a mockery of everything that Mueller had dedicated his life to fighting and doing. Amid a series of tepid official condemnations—President Obama labeled it “highly objectionable”—Mueller fired off a letter to Scottish minister Kenny MacAskill that stood out for its raw pain, anger, and deep sorrow.

    “Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision,” Mueller began. “Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of ‘compassion.’”

    That nine months after the 20th anniversary of the bombing, the only person behind bars for the bombing would walk back onto Libyan soil a free man and be greeted with rose petals left Mueller seething.

    “Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world,” Mueller wrote. “You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification—the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.”

    For Mueller, walking the fields of Lockerbie had been walking on hallowed ground. The Scottish decision pained him especially deeply, because of the mission and dedication he and his Scottish counterparts had shared 20 years before. “If all civilized nations join together to apply the rules of law to international terrorists, certainly we will be successful in ridding the world of the scourge of terrorism,” he had written in a perhaps too hopeful private note to the Scottish Lord Advocate in 1990.

    Some 20 years later, in an era when counterterrorism would be a massive, multibillion dollar industry and a buzzword for politicians everywhere, Mueller—betrayed—concluded his letter with a decidedly un-Mueller-like plea, shouted plaintively and hopelessly across the Atlantic: “Where, I ask, is the justice?”

    #USA #Libye #impérialisme #terrorisme #histoire #CIA #idéologie #propagande


  • And Yet We Move - 2018, a Contested Year

    Alarm Phone 6 Week Report, 12 November - 23 December 2018

    311 people escaping from Libya rescued through a chain of solidarity +++ About 113,000 sea arrivals and over 2,240 counted fatalities in the Mediterranean this year +++ 666 Alarm Phone distress cases in 2018 +++ Developments in all three Mediterranean regions +++ Summaries of 38 Alarm Phone distress cases

    Introduction

    “There are no words big enough to describe the value of the work you are doing. It is a deeply human act and it will never be forgotten. The whole of your team should know that we wish all of you health and a long life and the best wishes in all the colours of the world.” These are the words that the Alarm Phone received a few days ago from a man who had been on a boat in the Western Mediterranean Sea and with whom our shift teams had stayed in touch throughout the night until they were finally rescued to Spain. He was able to support the other travellers by continuously and calmly reassuring them, and thereby averted panic on the boat. His message motivates us to continue also in 2019 to do everything we can to assist people who have taken to the sea because Europe’s border regime has closed safe and legal routes, leaving only the most dangerous paths slightly open. On these paths, over 2,240 people have lost their lives this year.

    While we write this report, 311 people are heading toward Spain on the rescue boat of the NGO Proactiva Open Arms. The travellers called the Alarm Phone when they were on a boat-convoy that had left from Libya. Based on the indications of their location, Al-Khums, the civil reconnaissance aircraft Colibri launched a search operation in the morning of the 21st of December and was able to spot the convoy of three boats which were then rescued by Proactiva. Italy and Malta closed their harbours to them, prolonging their suffering. Over the Christmas days they headed toward their final destination in Spain. The successful rescue operation of the 313 people (one mother and her infant child were flown out by a helicopter after rescue) highlights the chain of solidarity that activists and NGOs have created in the Central Mediterranean Sea. It is a fragile chain that the EU and its member states seek to criminalise and tear apart wherever they can.

    Throughout the year of 2018, we have witnessed and assisted contested movements across the Mediterranean Sea. Despite violent deterrence policies and practices, about 113,000 people succeeded in subverting maritime borders and have arrived in Europe by boat. We were alerted to 666 distress situations at sea (until December 23rd), and our shift teams have done their best to assist the many thousands of people who saw no other option to realise their hope for a better future than by risking their lives at sea. Many of them lost their lives in the moment of enacting their freedom of movement. Over 2,240 women, men, and children from the Global South – and probably many more who were never counted – are not with us anymore because of the violence inscribed in the Global North’s hegemonic and brutal borders. They were not able to get a visa. They could not board a much cheaper plane, bus, or ferry to reach a place of safety and freedom. Many travelled for months, even years, to get anywhere near the Mediterranean border – and on their journeys they have lived through hardships unimaginable for most of us. But they struggled on and reached the coasts of Northern Africa and Turkey, where they got onto overcrowded boats. That they are no longer with us is a consequence of Europe’s racist system of segregation that illegalises and criminalises migration, a system that also seeks to illegalise and criminalise solidarity. Many of these 2,240 people would be alive if the civil rescuers were not prevented from doing their work. All of them would be alive, if they could travel and cross borders freely.

    In the different regions of the Mediterranean Sea, the situation has further evolved over the course of 2018, and the Alarm Phone witnessed the changing patterns of boat migration first hand. Most of the boats we assisted were somewhere between Morocco and Spain (480), a considerable number between Turkey and Greece (159), but comparatively few between Libya and Italy (27). This, of course, speaks to the changing dynamics of migratory escape and its control in the different regions:

    Morocco-Spain: Thousands of boats made it across the Strait of Gibraltar, the Alboran Sea, or the Atlantic and have turned Spain into the ‘front-runner’ this year with about 56,000 arrivals by sea. In 2017, 22,103 people had landed in Spain, 8,162 in 2016. In the Western Mediterranean, crossings are organised in a rather self-organised way and the number of arrivals speaks to a migratory dynamism not experienced for over a decade in this region. Solidarity structures have multiplied both in Morocco and Spain and they will not be eradicated despite the wave of repression that has followed the peak in crossings over the summer. Several Alarm Phone members experienced the consequences of EU pressure on the Moroccan authorities to repress cross-border movements first hand when they were violently deported to the south of Morocco, as were several thousand others.

    Turkey-Greece: With about 32,000 people reaching the Greek islands by boat, more people have arrived in Greece than in 2017, when 29,718 people did so. After arrival via the sea, many are confined in inhumane conditions on the islands and the EU hotspots have turned into rather permanent prisons. This desperate situation has prompted renewed movements across the Turkish-Greek land border in the north. Overall, the number of illegalised crossings into Greece has risen due to more than 20,000 people crossing the land border. Several cases of people experiencing illegal push-back operations there reached the Alarm Phone over the year.

    Libya-Italy/Malta: Merely about 23,000[1] people have succeeded in fleeing Libya via the sea in 2018. The decrease is dramatic, from 119,369 in 2017, and even 181,436 in 2016. This decrease gives testament to the ruthlessness of EU deterrence policies that have produced the highest death rate in the Central Mediterranean and unspeakable suffering among migrant communities in Libya. Libyan militias are funded, trained, and legitimated by their EU allies to imprison thousands of people in camps and to abduct those who made it onto boats back into these conditions. Due to the criminalisation of civil rescuers, a lethal rescue gap was produced, with no NGO able to carry out their work for many months of the year. Fortunately, three of them have now been able to return to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean.

    These snapshots of the developments in the three Mediterranean regions, elaborated on in greater detail below, give an idea of the struggles ahead of us. They show how the EU and its member states not only created dangerous maritime paths in the first place but then reinforced its migrant deterrence regime at any cost. They show, however, also how thousands could not be deterred from enacting their freedom of movement and how solidarity structures have evolved to assist their precarious movements. We go into 2019 with the promise and call that the United4Med alliance of sea rescuers has outlined: “We will prove how civil society in action is not only willing but also able to bring about a new Europe; saving lives at sea and creating a just reception system on land. Ours is a call to action to European cities, mayors, citizens, societies, movements, organisations and whoever believes in our mission, to join us. Join our civil alliance and let us stand up together, boldly claiming a future of respect and equality. We will stand united for the right to stay and for the right to go.”[2] Also in the new year, the Alarm Phone will directly engage in this struggle and we call on others to join. It can only be a collective fight, as the odds are stacked against us.

    Developments in the Central Mediterranean

    In December 2018, merely a few hundred people were able to escape Libya by boat. It cannot be stressed enough how dramatic the decrease in crossings along this route is – a year before, 2,327 people escaped in December, in 2016 even 8,428. 2018 is the year when Europe’s border regime ‘succeeded’ in largely shutting down the Central Mediterranean route. It required a combination of efforts – the criminalisation of civil search and rescue organisations, the selective presence of EU military assets that were frequently nowhere to be found when boats were in distress, the closure of Italian harbours and the unwillingness of other EU member states to welcome the rescued, and, most importantly, the EU’s sustained support for the so-called Libyan coastguards and other Libyan security forces. Europe has not only paid but also trained, funded and politically legitimised Libyan militias whose only job is to contain outward migratory movements, which means capturing and abducting people seeking to flee to Europe both at sea and on land. Without these brutal allies, it would not have been possible to reduce the numbers of crossings that dramatically.

    The ‘Nivin case’ of November 7th exemplifies this European-Libyan alliance. On that day, a group of 95 travellers reached out to the Alarm Phone from a boat in distress off the coast of Libya. Among them were people from Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Eritrea. Italy refused to conduct a rescue operation and eventually they were rescued by the cargo vessel Nivin. Despite telling the rescued that they would be brought to a European harbour, the crew of the Nivin returned them to Libya on November 10th. At the harbour of Misrata, most of the rescued refused to disembark, stating that they would not want to be returned into conditions of confinement and torture. The people, accused by some to be ‘pirates’, fought bravely against forced disembarkation for ten days but on the 20th of November they could resist no longer when Libyan security forces stormed the boat and violently removed them, using tear gas and rubber bullets in the process. Several of the protestors were injured and needed treatment in hospital while others were returned into inhumane detention camps.[3]

    Also over the past 6 weeks, the period covered in this report, the criminalisation of civil rescue organisations continued. The day that the protestors on the Nivin were violently removed, Italy ordered the seizure of the Aquarius, the large rescue asset operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières that had already been at the docs in France for some time, uncertain about its future mission. According to the Italian authorities, the crew had falsely labelled the clothes rescued migrants had left on the Aquarius as ‘special’ rather than ‘toxic’ waste.[4] The absurdity of the accusation highlights the fact that Italy’s authorities seek out any means to prevent rescues from taking place, a “disproportionate and unfounded measure, purely aimed at further criminalising lifesaving medical-humanitarian action at sea”, as MSF noted.[5] Unfortunately, these sustained attacks showed effect. On the 6th of December, SOS Med and MSF announced the termination of its mission: “European policies and obstruction tactics have forced [us] to terminate the lifesaving operations carried out by the search and rescue vessel Aquarius.” As the MSF general director said: “This is a dark day. Not only has Europe failed to provide search and rescue capacity, it has also actively sabotaged others’ attempts to save lives. The end of Aquarius means more deaths at sea, and more needless deaths that will go unwitnessed.”[6]

    And yet, despite this ongoing sabotage of civil rescue from the EU and its member states, three vessels of the Spanish, German, and Italian organisations Open Arms, Sea-Watch and Mediterranea returned to the deadliest area of the Mediterranean in late November.[7] This return is also significance for Alarm Phone work in the Central Mediterranean: once again we have non-governmental allies at sea who will not only document what is going on along the deadliest border of the world but actively intervene to counter Europe’s border ‘protection’ measures. Shortly after returning, one of the NGOs was called to assist. Fishermen had rescued a group of travellers off the coast of Libya onto their fishing vessel, after they had been abandoned in the water by a Libyan patrol boat, as the fishermen claimed. Rather than ordering their rapid transfer to a European harbour, Italy, Malta and Spain sought out ways to return the 12 people to Libya. The fishing boat, the Nuestra Madre de Loreto, was ill-equipped to care for the people who were weak and needed medical attention. However, they were assisted only by Proactiva Open Arms, and for over a week, the people had to stay on the fishing boat. One of them developed a medical emergency and was eventually brought away in a helicopter. Finally, in early December, they were brought to Malta.[8]

    Around the same time, something rare and remarkable happened. A boat with over 200 people on board reached the Italian harbour of Pozzallo independently, on the 24th of November. Even when they were at the harbour, the authorities refused to allow them to quickly disembark – a irresponsible decision given that the boat was at risk of capsizing. After several hours, all of the people were finally allowed to get off the boat. Italy’s minister of the interior Salvini accused the Maltese authorities of allowing migrant boats to move toward Italian territory.[9] Despite their hardship, the people on the Nuestra Madre de Loreto and the 200 people from this boat, survived. Also the 33 people rescued by the NGO Sea-Watch on the 22nd of December survived. Others, however, did not. In mid-November, a boat left from Algeria with 13 young people on board, intending to reach Sardinia. On the 16th of November, the first body was found, the second a day later. Three survived and stated later that the 10 others had tried to swim to what they believed to be the shore when they saw a light in the distance.[10] In early December, a boat with 25 people on board left from Sabratha/Libya, and 15 of them did not survive. As a survivor reported, they had been at sea for 12 days without food and water.[11]

    Despite the overall decrease in crossings, what has been remarkable in this region is that the people escaping have more frequently informed the Alarm Phone directly than before. The case mentioned earlier, from the 20th of December, when people from a convoy of 3 boats carrying 313 people in total reached out to us, exemplifies this. Detected by the Colibri reconnaissance aircraft and rescued by Proactiva, this case demonstrates powerfully what international solidarity can achieve, despite all attempts by EU member states and institutions to create a zone of death in the Central Mediterranean Sea.
    Developments in the Western Mediterranean Sea

    Over the past six weeks covered by this report, the Alarm Phone witnessed several times what happens when Spanish and Moroccan authorities shift responsibilities and fail to respond quickly to boats in distress situations. Repeatedly we had to pressurise the Spanish authorities publicly before they launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation. And still, many lives were lost at sea. On Moroccan land, the repression campaign against Sub-Saharan travellers and residents continues. On the 30th of November, an Alarm Phone member was, yet again, arrested and deported towards the South of Morocco, to Tiznit, along with many other people. (h https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/04/alarm-phone-member-arrested-and-deported-in-morocco/?post_type_release_type=post). Other friends in Morocco have informed us about the deportation of large groups from Nador to Tiznit. Around the 16th of December, 400 people were forcibly removed, and on the 17th of December, another 300 people were deported to Morocco’s south. This repression against black residents and travellers in Morocco is one of the reasons for many to decide to leave via the sea. This has meant that also during the winter, cross-Mediterranean movements remain high. On just one weekend, the 8th-9th of December, 535 people reached Andalusia/Spain.[12]

    Whilst people are constantly resisting the border regime by acts of disobedience when they cross the borders clandestinely, acts of resistance take place also on the ground in Morocco, where associations and individuals are continuously struggling for the freedom of movement for all. In early December, an Alarm Phone delegation participated at an international conference in Rabat/Morocco, in order to discuss with members of other associations and collectives from Africa and Europe about the effects of the outsourcing and militarisation of European borders in the desire to further criminalise and prevent migration movements. We were among 400 people and were impressed by the many contributions from people who live and struggle in very precarious situations, by the uplifting atmosphere, and by the many accounts and expressions of solidarity. Days later, during the international meeting in Marrakesh on the ‘Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’, the Alarm Phone was part of a counter-summit, protesting the international pact on migration which is not meant to reduce borders between states, but to curtail the freedom of movement of the many in the name of ‘legal’ and ‘regulated’ migration. The Alarm Phone delegation was composed of 20 activists from the cities of Tangier, Oujda, Berkane, Nador and Fes. One of our colleagues sums up the event: “We have expressed our ideas and commitments as Alarm Phone, solemnly and strongly in front of the other organisations represented. We have espoused the vision of freedom of movement, a vision without precedent. A vision which claims symbolically all human rights and which has the power to help migrants on all continents to feel protected.” In light of the Marrakesh pact, several African organisations joined together and published a statement rejecting “…the wish to confine Africans within their countries by strengthening border controls, in the deserts, at sea and in airports.”[13]

    Shortly after the international meeting in Marrakesh, the EU pledged €148 million to support Morocco’s policy of migrant containment, thus taking steps towards making it even more difficult, and therefore more dangerous for many people on the African continent to exercise their right to move freely, under the pretext of “combating smuggling”. Making the journeys across the Mediterranean more difficult does not have the desired effect of ending illegalised migration. As the routes to Spain from the north of Morocco have become more militarised following a summer of many successful crossings, more southern routes have come into use again. These routes, leading to the Spanish Canary Islands, force travellers to overcome much longer distances in the Atlantic Ocean, a space without phone coverage and with a heightened risk to lose one’s orientation. On the 18th of November, 22 people lost their lives at sea, on their way from Tiznit to the Canary Islands.[14] Following a Spanish-Frontex collaboration launched in 2006, this route to the Canary Islands has not been used very frequently, but numbers have increased this year, with Moroccan nationals being the largest group of arrivals.[15]
    Developments in the Aegean Sea

    Over the final weeks of 2018, between the 12th of November and the 23rd of December, 78 boats arrived on the Greek islands while 116 boats were stopped by the Turkish coastguards and returned to Turkey. This means that there were nearly 200 attempts to cross into Europe by boat over five weeks, and about 40 percent of them were successful.[16] Over the past six weeks, the Alarm Phone was involved in a total of 19 cases in this region. 6 of the boats arrived in Samos, 3 of them in Chios, and one each on Lesvos, Agathonisi, Farmkonisi, and Symi. 4 boats were returned to Turkey (3 of them rescued, 1 intercepted by the Turkish coastguards). In one distress situation, a man lost his life and another man had to be brought to the hospital due to hypothermia. Moreover, the Alarm Phone was alerted to 2 cases along the Turkish-Greek land border. While in one case their fate remains uncertain, the other group of people were forcibly pushed-back to Turkey.

    Thousands of people still suffering in inhuman conditions in hotspots: When we assist boats crossing the Aegean Sea, the people are usually relieved and happy when arriving on the islands, at least they have survived. However, this moment of happiness often turns into a state of shock when they enter the so-called ‘hotspots’. Over 12,500 people remain incarcerated there, often living in tents and containers unsuitable for winter in the five EU-sponsored camps on Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos, and Leros. In addition to serious overcrowding, asylum seekers continue to face unsanitary and unhygienic conditions and physical violence, including gender-based violence. Doctors without Borders has reported on a measles outbreak in Greek camps and conducted a vaccination campaign.[17] Amnesty International and 20 other organizations have published a collective call: “As winter approaches all asylum seekers on the Aegean islands must be transferred to suitable accommodation on the mainland or relocated to other EU countries. […] The EU-Turkey deal containment policy imposes unjustified and unnecessary suffering on asylum seekers, while unduly limiting their rights.”

    The ‘humanitarian’ crisis in the hotspots is the result of Greece’s EU-backed policy of containing asylum seekers on the Aegean islands until their asylum claims are adjudicated or until it is determined that they fall into one of the ‘vulnerable’ categories listed under Greek law. But as of late November, an estimated 2,200 people identified as eligible for transfer are still waiting as accommodation facilities on the mainland are also severely overcrowded. Those who are actually transferred from the hotspot on Lesvos to the Greek mainland are brought to far away camps or empty holiday resorts without infrastructure and without a sufficient number of aid workers.

    Criminalisation along Europe’s Eastern Sea Border: A lot has been written about the many attempts to criminalise NGOs and activists carrying out Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Much less publicly acknowledged are the many cases in which migrant travellers themselves become criminalised for their activist involvement, often for protesting against the inhuman living conditions and the long waiting times for the asylum-interviews. The case of the ‘Moria 35’ on Lesvos was a case in point, highlighting how a few individual protesters were randomly selected by authorities to scare others into silence and obedience. The Legal Centre Lesvos followed this case closely until the last person of the 35 was released and they shared their enquiries with “a 15-month timeline of injustice and impunity” on their website: “On Thursday 18th October, the last of the Moria 35 were released from detention. Their release comes one year and three months – to the day – after the 35 men were arbitrarily arrested and subject to brutal police violence in a raid of Moria camp following peaceful protests, on July 18th 2017.” While the Legal Centre Lesbos welcomes the fact that all 35 men were finally released, they should never have been imprisoned in the first place. They will not get back the 10 to 15 months they spent in prison. Moreover, even after release, most of the 35 men remain in a legally precarious situation. While 6 were granted asylum in Greece, the majority struggles against rejected asylum claims. Three were already deported. One individual was illegally deported without having exhausted his legal remedies in Greece while another individual, having spent 9 months in pre-trial detention, signed up for so-called ‘voluntary’ deportation.[18] In the meantime, others remain in prison to await their trials that will take place with hardly any attention of the media.

    Humanitarian activists involved in spotting and rescue released after 3 months: The four activists, Sarah Mardini, Nassos Karakitsos, Panos Moraitis and Sean Binder, were released on the 6th of December 2018 after having been imprisoned for three months. They had been held in prolonged pre-trial detention for their work with the non-profit organization Emergency Response Center International (ERCI), founded by Moraitis. The charges misrepresented the group as a smuggling crime ring, and its legitimate fundraising activities as money laundering. The arrests forced the group to cease its operations, including maritime search and rescue, the provision of medical care, and non-formal education to asylum seekers. They are free without geographical restrictions but the case is not yet over. Mardini and Binder still face criminal charges possibly leading to decades in prison.[19] Until 15 February the group ‘Solidarity now!’ is collecting as many signatures as possible to ensure that the Greek authorities drop the case.[20]

    Violent Pushbacks at the Land Border: During the last six weeks, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two groups at the land border separating Turkey and Greece. In both situations, the travellers had already reached Greek soil, but ended up on Turkish territory. Human Right Watch (HRW) published another report on the 18th of December about violent push-backs in the Evros region: “Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants […]. The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.”[21] Regularly, migrants were stripped off their phones, money and clothes. According to HRW, most of these incidents happened between April and November 2018.[22] The UNHCR and the Council of Europe’s Committee for Prevention of Torture have published similar reports about violent push backs along the Evros borders.[23]
    CASE REPORTS

    Over the past 6 weeks, the WatchTheMed Alarm Phone was engaged in 38 distress cases, of which 15 took place in the Western Mediterranean, 19 in the Aegean Sea, and 4 in the Central Mediterranean. You can find short summaries and links to the individual reports below.
    Western Mediterranean

    On Tuesday the 13th of November at 6.17pm, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a relative to a group of travellers who had left two days earlier from around Orán heading towards Murcia. They were around nine people, including women and children, and the relative had lost contact to the boat. We were also never able to reach the travellers. At 6.46pm we alerted the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM) to the distress of the travellers. For several days we tried to reach the travellers and were in contact with SM about the ongoing rescue operation. We were never able to reach the travellers or get any news from the relative. Thus, we are still unsure if the group managed to reach land somewhere on their own, or if they will add to the devastating number of people having lost their lives at sea (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1085).

    On Thursday the 22nd of November, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone received news about a boat of 11 people that had left Nador 8 hours prior. The shift team was unable to immediately enter into contact with the boat, but called Salvamento Maritimo to convey all available information. At 11.48am the following day, the shift team received word from a traveler on the boat that they were safe (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1088).

    At 7.25am CET on November 24, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 70 people (including 8 women and 1 child) that had departed from Nador 3 days prior. The shift team was able to reach the boat at 7.50am and learned that their motor had stopped working. The shift team called Salvamento Maritimo, who had handed the case over to the Moroccan authorities. The shift team contacted the MRCC, who said they knew about the boat but could not find them, so the shift team mobilized their contacts to find the latest position and sent it to the coast guard at 8.55am. Rescue operations stalled for several hours. At around 2pm, the shift team received news that rescue operations were underway by the Marine Royale. The shift team remained in contact with several people and coast guards until the next day, when it was confirmed that the boat had finally been rescued and that there were at least 15 fatalities (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1087).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, we were alerted to two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. One boat was brought to Algeria, the second boat rescued by Moroccan fishermen and returned to Morocco (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1098).

    On Saturday, the 8th of December 2018, we were informed by a contact person at 3.25pm CET to a boat in distress that had left from Nador/Morocco during the night, at about 1am. There were 57 people on the boat, including 8 women and a child. We tried to establish contact to the boat but were unable to reach them. At 4.50pm, the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) informed us that they were already searching for this boat. At 8.34pm, SM stated that this boat had been rescued. Some time later, also our contact person confirmed that the boat had been found and rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1099).

    On Monday the 10th of December, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to three boats in the Western Med. Two had left from around Nador, and one from Algeria. One boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo, one group of travellers returned back to Nador on their own, and the boat from Algeria returned to Algeria (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1101).

    On Wednesday the 12th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted two boats in the Western Med, one carrying seven people, the other carrying 12 people. The first boat was rescued by the Spanish search and rescue organization Salvamento Maritimo (SM), whilst the second boat was intercepted by the Moroccan Navy and brought back to Morocco, where we were informed that the travellers were held imprisoned (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1102).

    On December 21st, 2018, we were informed of two boats in distress in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The first had left from Algeria and was probably rescued to Spain. The other one had departed from Tangier and was rescued by the Marine Royale and brought back to Morocco (for full report, see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1110).

    On the 22nd of December, at 5.58pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 81 people (including 7 women) that had left the previous day from Nador. The motor was not working properly. They informed that they were in touch with Salvamiento Maritimo but as they were still in Moroccan waters, Salvamiento Maritimo said they were unable to perform rescue operations. The shift team had difficulty maintaining contact with the boat over the course of the next few hours. The shift team also contacted Salvamiento Maritimo who confirmed that they knew about the case. At 7.50pm, Salvamiento Maritimo informed the shift team that they would perform the rescue operations and confirmed the operation at 8.15pm. We later got the confirmation by a contact person that the people were rescued to Spain (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1111).

    On the 23rd of December 2018, at 1.14am CET, the Alarm Phone received an alert of a boat with 11 men and 1 woman who left from Cap Spartel at Saturday the 22nd of December. The Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to this rubber boat in the early hours of Sunday the 23rd of December. The shift team informed the Spanish Search and Rescue organisation Salvamento Maritimo (SM) at 4:50am CET about the situation and provided them with GPS coordinates of the boat. SM, however, rejected responsibility and shifted it to the Moroccan authorities but also the Moroccan Navy did not rescue the people. Several days later, the boat remains missing (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1112).
    Aegean Sea

    On Saturday the 17th of November the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean Sea. The first boat returned back to Turkey, whilst the second boat reached Samos on their own (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1086).

    On the 19th of November at 8.40pm CET the shift team was alerted to a boat of 11 travelers in distress near the Turkish coast on its way to Kos. The shift team called the Turkish Coastguard to inform them of the situation. At 9.00pm, the Coastguard called back to confirm they found the boat and would rescue the people. The shift team lost contact with the travelers. At 9.35pm, the Turkish coast guard informed the shift team that the boat was sunk, one man died and one person had hypothermia and would be brought to the hospital. The other 9 people were safe and brought back to Turkey (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1090).

    On the 20th of November at 4.07am CET, the shift team was alerted to a boat with about 50 travelers heading to Samos. The shift team contacted the travelers but the contact was broken for both language and technological reasons. The Alarm Phone contacted the Greek Coastguard about rescue operations. At 7.02am, the shift team was told that a boat of 50 people had been rescued, and the news was confirmed later on, although the shift team could not obtain direct confirmation from the travelers themselves (see:http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1089).

    On the 23rd of November at 7.45pm CET, the Alarm Phone was contacted regarding a group of 19 people, (including 2 women, 1 of whom was pregnant, and a child) who had crossed the river Evros/ Meric and the Turkish-Greek landborder 3 days prior. The shift team first contacted numerous rescue and protection agencies, including UNHCR and the Greek Police, noting that the people were already in Greece and wished to apply for asylum. Until today we remained unable to find out what happened to the people (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1091).

    On the 26th of November at 6:54am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a group of 30 people (among them 7 children and a pregnant woman) who were stranded on the shore in southern Turkey, close to Kas. They wanted us to call the Turkish coastguard so at 7:35am we provided the coastguard with the information we had. At 8:41am we received a photograph from our contact person showing rescue by the Turkish coastguard (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1092).

    On the 29th of November at 4am CET the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat carrying 44 people (among them 19 children and some pregnant women) heading towards the Greek island of Samos. Shortly afterwards the travellers landed on Samos and because of their difficulties orienting themselves we alerted the local authorities. At 9:53am the port police told us that they had rescued 44 people. They were taken to the refugee camp (see: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1093).

    On Monday, the 3rd of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was alerted at 5.30am CET to a boat in distress south of Chios, with 43 people on board, among them 14 children. We were able to reach the boat at 5.35am. When we received their position, we informed the Greek coastguards at 7.30am and forwarded an updated GPS position to them ten minutes later. At 8.52am, the coastguards confirmed the rescue of the boat. The people were brought to Chios Island. On the next day, the people themselves confirmed that they had all safely reached Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1095).

    On Tuesday the 4th of December 2018, at 6.20am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to a boat in distress near Agathonisi Island. There were about 40 people on board. We established contact to the boat at 6.38am. At 6.45am, we alerted the Greek coastguards. The situation was dangerous as the people on board reported of high waves. At 9.02am, the Greek coastguards confirmed that they had just rescued the boat. The people were brought to Agathonisi (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1096).

    On Wednesday the 5th of December 2018, at 00:08am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted by a contact person to a boat in distress near Chios Island, carrying about 50 people. We received their GPS position at 00.17am and informed the Greek coastguards to the case at 00.30am. At 00.46am, we learned from the contact person that a boat had just been rescued. The Greek authorities confirmed this when we called them at 00.49am. At around 1pm, the people from the boat confirmed that they had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1097).

    On Friday the 7th of December 2018, the Alarm Phone was contacted at 5.53am CET by a contact person and informed about a group of 19 people who had crossed the Evros river to Greece and needed assistance. We assisted them for days, but at some point contact was lost. We know that they were returned to Turkey and thus suspect an illegal push-back operation (see for full report: http://watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1109).

    On Thursday the 13th of December the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two boats in the Aegean sea. In both cases we were not able to reach the travellers, but we were in contact with both the Turkish and Greek coast guard and were in the end able to confirm that one boat had arrived to Lesvos on their own, whilst the others had been rescued by Turkish fishermen (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/reports/view/1100).

    On the 17th of December, 2018, at 6.39am, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to a boat of 60 travellers. Water was entering the boat, and so the travelers were in distress. Though the shift team had a difficult time remaining in contact with the boat, they contacted the Greek Coastguard to inform them of the situation and the position of the boat. Although the team was not able to remain in contact with the travelers, they received confirmation at 8.18am that the boat had been brought to Greece (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1103).

    On the 18th of December at 2.11am CET, the Alarm Phone was alerted to two boats. The first, of 29 travellers, had landed on the island of Symi and needed help to exit the place of landing. The second was a boat of 54 travellers (including 16 children, and 15 women) that was rescued by the Greek Coastguard later (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1104).

    On the 21st of December, our shift teams were alerted to 2 boats on the Aegean. The first boat was directed to Chios Island and was likely rescued by the Greek Coastguard. The second boat was in immediate distress and after the shift team contacted the Greek Coastguard they rescued the boat (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1105).

    On the 23rd of December 2018 at 6am CET, the Alarm Phone received information about a boat in distress heading to Samos with around 60 travellers (including 30 children and 8 women, 4 pregnant). The shift team made contact with the boat and was informed that one of the women was close to giving birth and so the situation was very urgent. The shift team then called the Greek Coast Guard. At 8.07am, the shift team received confirmation that the boat had been rescued (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1106).
    Central Mediterranean

    On Monday the 12th of November at 6.57pm, the Alarm Phone was called by a relative, asking for help to find out what had happened to his son, who had been on a boat from Algeria towards Sardinia, with around 11 travellers on the 8t of November. Following this, the Alarm Phone was contacted by several relatives informing us about missing people from this boat. Our shift teams tried to gain an understanding of the situation, and for days we stayed in contact with the relatives and tried to support them, but it was not possible to obtain information about what had happened to the travellers (see: http://www.watchthemed.net/index.php/reports/view/1094).

    On November 23rd at 1.24pm CET, the Alarm Phone shift team was called by a boat of 120 travelers that was in distress and had left the Libyan coast the night before. The shift team remained in touch with the boat for several hours, and helped recharge their phone credit when it expired. As the boat was in distress, and there were no available NGO operations near the boat, the shift team had no choice but to contact the Italian Coast Guard, but they refused to engage in Search and Rescue (SAR) activities, and instead told the Libyan Coastguard. The boat was intercepted and returned to Libya (see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1107).

    On December 20th, 2018, the Alarm Phone shift team was alerted to two cases in the Central Mediterranean Sea. The first was a boat of 20 people that was intercepted and brought back to Libya. The second concerned 3 boats with 300 people in total, that were rescued by Open Arms and brought to Spain (for full report see: http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/1108).

    https://alarmphone.org/en/2018/12/27/and-yet-we-move-2018-a-contested-year/?post_type_release_type=post


  • Stop security guard and police violence! Justizwatch on the Bamberg police raid of Dec 11, 2018

    Statement by Justizwatch on the police raid in the AEO Bamberg (Bavaria, Germany) on the night of December 11, 2018

    18.12.2018

    A dispute between Eritrean asylum seekers and security guards in the AnkER Centre of Upper Franconia (AEO) in Bamberg (Bavaria, Germany) on December 11, 2018 shortly after midnight was followed by a large-scale, brutal police raid involving 100 to 200 police officers and the Special Deployment Commando (SEK). According to the police report, nine asylum seekers were arrested. Pre-trial detention orders were later issued against four of them. The accusations by the public prosecutor are severe: it investigates among other things because of attempted manslaughter and serious arson.

    The police and the public prosecutor’s office describe the asylum seekers as extremely violent: Allegedly they first attacked guards, then barricaded themselves in a building, set fire to an apartment and threw cobblestones at police officers. The media uncritically adopted this depiction. Hardly any journalist took the trouble to talk to the victims on the spot and to check the information provided by the police.

    However, talking to the affected Eritreans results in a completely different picture. They report that security guards attacked and severely beat them after a verbal dispute. This resulted in serious injuries, including broken teeth and a broken rib. The abuse by the guards continued even after the police had arrived on site. However, the police were not interested in the perspective of the asylum seekers, and simply arrested them.

    The incident follows systematic security guard violence in the camp that is known to both to the Bamberg public prosecutor and the AEO management. They know that employees of the company Fair Guards and its subcontractors founded a so-called “special team” in the summer of 2017. This team has been responsible for countless attacks against asylum seekers, especially Black men. Complaints by asylum seekers concerning these attacks to the AEO management and by former security employees against the main company Fair Guards have so far remained largely without consequences. Instead, the police and the prosecutor have criminalized the victims of such attacks in several cases.

    Most reports on the December 11 police raid in Bamberg also do not mention that after the arrest of the Eritreans, the police carried out a brutal raid in other AEO buildings. Civil servants violently destroyed the doors of unlocked apartments and searched the rooms of completely uninvolved residents. They took eight asylum seekers from Nigeria out of their beds at 4 a.m., handcuffed them and drove them, some still half-naked, to the police station – on the unfounded accusation that they had participated in the dispute between the Eritreans and the guards.

    We demand a complete investigation of the police raid on December 11, 2018 and a thorough examination of all the evidence in the Bamberg Security Complex.

    We demand that the role and complicity of the security company Fair Guards, the camp management and law enforcement be investigated.

    We demand an end to the constant police raids in the AnkER Centres that have no other purpose than to stage refugees as criminals and to intimidate them.

    We call for journalism that allows refugees to voice their views.

    http://cultureofdeportation.org/2018/12/18/justizwatch-on-the-bamberg-police-raid
    #police #violences_policières #Bamberg #Allemagne #réfugiés #migrations #médias #criminalisation #réfugiés_érythréens #demandeurs_d'asile #violence


    • t’as aussi Yellow Vests ailleurs.
      https://seenthis.net/messages/740447
      No homeless, pensions, maximum salary… Discover the list of claims of the “yellow vests”

      The movement sent a press release to the media and MPs with about 40 demands on Thursday.
      The claims of the “yellow vests” now officially go beyond the issue of fuel prices alone. In a lengthy statement sent to the media and members of parliament on Thursday 29 November, the movement’s delegation listed a series of demands it wanted to see implemented.

      “Deputies of France, we inform you of the people’s directives so that you can transpose them into law (…). Obey the will of the people. Enforce these instructions”, write the “yellow vests”. Delegation spokespersons are to be received on Friday at 2 p.m. by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Ecological Transition François de Rugy.

      Increase of the minimum wage to 1,300 euros net, return to retirement at age 60 or abandonment of withholding tax…. The list includes many social measures, but also measures concerning transport, such as the end of the increase in fuel taxes and the introduction of a tax on marine fuel and kerosene. Here is a non-exhaustive list of claims:

      – Zero homeless : URGENT.

      – More progressiveness in income tax, i.e. more brackets.

      – Smic at 1,300 euros net.

      – Promote small businesses in villages and town centres. Stop the construction of large commercial areas around large cities that kill small businesses and more free parking in city centres.

      – Large plan of Insulation of the dwellings to make ecology by making savings to the households.

      – Taxes: that BIG companies (MacDonald’s, Google, Amazon, Carrefour…) pay BIG and that small companies (craftsmen, very small SMEs) pay small.

      – Same social security system for all (including craftsmen and self-employed entrepreneurs). End of the RSI.

      – The pension system must remain united and therefore socialized. No point retreat.

      – End of the fuel tax increase.

      – No retirement below 1,200 euros.

      – Any elected representative will be entitled to the median salary. His transport costs will be monitored and reimbursed if justified. Entitlement to a meal ticket and a holiday voucher.

      – The salaries of all French people, as well as pensions and allowances, must be indexed to inflation.

      – Protecting French industry: prohibit relocations. Protecting our industry means protecting our know-how and our jobs.

      – End of seconded work. It is abnormal that a person working in France does not enjoy the same salary and rights. Anyone authorised to work on French territory must be on an equal footing with a French citizen and his employer must contribute at the same level as a French employer.

      – For job security: further limit the number of fixed-term contracts for large companies. We want more permanent contracts.

      – End of the CICE. Use of this money to launch a French hydrogen car industry (which is truly ecological, unlike the electric car.)

      – End of the austerity policy. We stop paying interest on the debt that is declared illegitimate and we start paying down the debt without taking money from the poor and the less poor, but by collecting the $80 billion in tax evasion.

      – That the causes of forced migration be addressed.

      – That asylum seekers are treated well. We owe them housing, security, food and education for minors. Work with the UN to ensure that reception camps are opened in many countries around the world, pending the outcome of the asylum application.

      – That rejected asylum seekers be returned to their country of origin.

      – That a real integration policy be implemented. Living in France means becoming French (French language courses, French history courses and civic education courses with a certificate at the end of the course).

      – Maximum salary set at 15,000 euros.

      – That jobs be created for the unemployed.

      – Increase in disabled benefits.

      – Limitation of rents. More affordable housing (especially for students and precarious workers).

      – Prohibition to sell property belonging to France (dam, airport…)

      – Substantial resources granted to the judiciary, police, gendarmerie and army. Whether law enforcement overtime is paid or recovered.

      – All the money earned by motorway tolls will be used for the maintenance of France’s motorways and roads as well as for road safety.

      – As the price of gas and electricity has risen since privatisation took place, we want them to become public again and prices to fall significantly.

      – Immediate end of the closure of small lines, post offices, schools and maternity hospitals.

      – Let us bring well-being to our seniors. Prohibition to make money on the elderly. White gold is over. The era of grey well-being is beginning.

      – Maximum 25 students per class from kindergarten to high school.

      – Substantial resources brought to psychiatry.

      – The popular referendum must be incorporated into the Constitution. Creation of a readable and effective website, supervised by an independent control body where people can make a legislative proposal. If this bill obtains 700,000 signatures, then this bill must be discussed, supplemented and amended by the National Assembly, which will have the obligation (one year to the day after obtaining 700,000 signatures) to submit it to the vote of all French people.

      – Return to a 7-year term of office for the President of the Republic. The election of deputies two years after the election of the President of the Republic made it possible to send a positive or negative signal to the President of the Republic regarding his policy. This helped to make the voice of the people heard.)

      – Retirement at age 60 and for all persons who have worked in a profession that wears out the body (e. g. bricklayer or boner) entitled to retirement at age 55.

      – A 6-year-old child not caring for himself, continuation of the PAJEMPLOI assistance system until the child is 10 years old.

      – Encourage the transport of goods by rail.

      – No withholding tax.

      – End of presidential lifetime benefits.

      – Prohibition to make merchants pay a tax when their customers use the credit card. Tax on marine fuel oil and kerosene.

      https://www.francetvinfo.fr/economie/transports/gilets-jaunes/zero-sdf-retraites-superieures-a-1-200-euros-salaire-maximum-a-15-000-e


      #yellow_vests


  • « Law & Order. Inculpation par un grand jury fédéral (USA) de 3 policiers de Saint-Louis ayant tabassé l’un de leurs collègues infiltré au cours d’une #manifestation. »

    Four St. Louis Police Officers Indicted for Civil Rights Violations and Obstruction of Justice | OPA | Department of Justice
    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/four-st-louis-police-officers-indicted-civil-rights-violations-and-obstruct

    A federal grand jury in St. Louis indicted four St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) Police Officers for their conduct in connection with the arrest and assault of a fellow SLMPD police officer who was working undercover in downtown St. Louis during last year’s protests following the acquittal of a former SLMPD officer of a first-degree murder charge brought by the State of Missouri relating to the shooting death of a civilian.

    The indictment charges Officers Dustin Boone, 35, Bailey Colletta, 25, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, with various felony charges, including deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice.

    “Law enforcement officers have an important duty to protect the members of the communities they serve and to enforce the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute matters involving allegations of federal criminal civil rights violations.”

    “These are serious charges and the vigorous enforcement of civil rights is essential to maintaining public trust in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen. “The SLMPD recognized the importance of this investigation and its leadership has cooperated at every turn. I continue to have great confidence in the brave and honorable men and women of the SLMPD, Chief John Hayden, and Public Safety Director Judge Jimmie Edwards.”


  • New Law Could Give U.K. Unconstitutional Access to Americans’ Personal Data, Human Rights Groups Warn
    https://theintercept.com/2018/11/26/cloud-act-data-privacy-us-tech-companies

    Nine human rights and civil liberties organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department today objecting to a potential agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom that would give British law enforcement broad access to data held by U.S. technology companies. The possible agreement stems from the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, or CLOUD Act, for which Justice Department officials have lobbied since 2016 and which President Donald Trump signed into law in (...)

    #Apple #Google #Microsoft #Oath #Facebook #surveillance #BigData #EFF #AccessNow


  • The End of Trust (McSweeney’s 54) | Electronic Frontier Foundation
    https://www.eff.org/the-end-of-trust

    anthropologist Gabriella Coleman contemplates anonymity; Edward Snowden explains blockchain; journalist Julia Angwin and Pioneer Award-winning artist Trevor Paglen discuss the intersections of their work; Pioneer Award winner Malkia Cyril discusses the historical surveillance of black bodies; and Ken Montenegro and Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying debate author and intelligence contractor Myke Cole on the question of whether there’s a way law enforcement can use surveillance responsibly.

    The End of Trust is available to download and read right now under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.


  • Arizona border residents speak out against Donald Trump’s deployment of troops

    Residents from Arizona borderland towns gathered Thursday outside the Arizona State Capitol to denounce President Donald Trump’s deployment of at least 5,200 U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The group of about a dozen traveled to Phoenix to hold the event on the Arizona State Capitol lawn. The press conference took place as a caravan of migrants seeking asylum continues to move north through Mexico toward the United States.

    “The U.S. government response to asylum seekers has turned to military confrontation,” said Amy Juan, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who spoke at the event on the Arizona State Capitol lawn.

    “We demand an end to the rhetoric of dehumanization and the full protection of human rights for all migrants and refugees in our borderlands.”

    Juan and her group said many refugees confronted by military at the border will circumvent them by way of “dangerous foot crossings through remote areas.”

    “Already this year, hundreds of remains of migrants and refugees have been recovered in U.S. deserts,” Juan said. “As front-line border communities, we witness and respond to this tragedy firsthand.”

    While she spoke at a lectern, others held a sign saying, “Troops out now. Our communities are not war zones.”

    As the press conference unfolded, the Trump administration announced a plan to cut back immigrants’ ability to request asylum in the United States.

    Those from Arizona borderland towns are also concerned that border communities, such as Ajo, the Tohono O’odham Nation, Arivaca and others, may see an increased military presence.

    “I didn’t spend two years in Vietnam to be stopped every time I come and go in my own community,” said Dan Kelly, who lives in Arivaca, an unincorporated community in Pima County, 11 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

    A major daily hiccup

    Many border-community residents complain the current law enforcement presence, absent the new U.S. troops, creates a major hiccup in everyday life.

    “Residents of Arivaca, Ajo, the Tohono O’odham Nation, they are surrounded on all sides by checkpoints. They are surrounded on all sides by border patrol stations. Every time they go to the grocery store, they pass a border patrol vehicle,” said Billy Peard, an attorney for ACLU Arizona.

    Juan says she gets anxiety from these checkpoints because she has been stopped and forced to get out of her car while federal agents and a dog search for signs of drugs or human smuggling.

    Juan calls the fear of these type of situations “checkpoint trauma.”

    “It’s really based upon their suspicions,” she said of authorities at checkpoints. “Even though we are not doing anything wrong, there’s still that fear.”

    Many of those speaking at Thursday’s event accused the federal government of racial profiling, targeting Latino and tribal members. They said they are often subjected to prolonged questioning, searches, and at times, harassment.

    “A lot of people can sway this as a political thing,” Juan said. “But, ultimately, it’s about our quality of life.”


    https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/border-issues/2018/11/08/arizona-border-residents-speak-out-against-trumps-troop-deployment/1934976002
    #murs #barrières_frontalières #résistance #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières #USA #Etats-Unis

    • In South Texas, the Catholic Church vs. Trump’s Border Wall

      A charismatic priest and the local diocese hope to save a 120-year-old chapel near the Rio Grande.

      Around the Texas border town of Mission, Father Roy Snipes is known for his love of Lone Star beer, a propensity to swear freely and the menagerie of rescue dogs he’s rarely seen without. At 73, Father Roy, as he’s universally known, stays busy. He says around five masses a week at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in downtown Mission, and fields endless requests to preside over weddings and funerals. Lately, he’s taken on a side gig: a face of the resistance to Trump’s “big, beautiful” border wall.

      “It’ll be ugly as hell,” said Snipes. “And besides that, it’s a sick symbol, a countervalue. We don’t believe in hiding behind Neanderthal walls.”

      For Snipes, Trump’s wall is no abstraction. It’s set to steal something dear from him. Snipes is the priest in charge of the La Lomita chapel, a humble sandstone church that has stood for 120 years just a few hundred yards from the Rio Grande, at the southern outskirts of Mission. Inside its walls, votive candles burn, and guestbooks fill up with Spanish and English messages left by worshippers.

      Snipes belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the congregation of priests that built the chapel in 1899. Nearly 40 years ago, he took his final vows at La Lomita, which was named for a nearby hillock. At sunset, he said, he often piles a couple canines into his van and drives the gravel levee road that leads to the chapel, where he prays and walks the dogs. Local residents worship at La Lomita every day, and as a state historical landmark, it draws tourists from around Texas. For Snipes, the diminutive sanctuary serves as a call to humility. “We come from a long line of hospitable, humble and kind people, and La Lomita is a reminder of that,” he said. “It’s the chapel of the people.”

      If Trump has his way, the people’s chapel will soon languish on the wrong side of a 30-foot border wall, or be destroyed entirely. Already, Border Patrol agents hover day and night at the entrance to the 8-acre La Lomita property, but Snipes thinks a wall would be another matter. Even if the chapel survives, and even if it remains accessible via an electronic gate in the wall, he thinks almost all use of the chapel would end. To prevent that, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, which owns La Lomita, is fighting in court to keep federal agents off the land — but it’s a Hail Mary effort. Border residents have tried, and failed, to halt the wall before.

      Here’s what the La Lomita stretch of wall would look like: As in other parts of Hidalgo County, the structure would be built on an existing earthen river levee. First, federal contractors working for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would cut away the levee’s sloped south half and replace it with a sheer concrete wall, about 15 feet high, then top the wall with 18-foot steel bollards. In total, the levee wall and metal fencing would reach more than three stories high. Longtime border activist Scott Nicol has called the proposed structure a “concrete and steel monstrosity.”

      And it doesn’t end there. The contractors would also clear a 150-foot “enforcement zone” to the south, a barren strip of land for patrol roads, sensors, camera towers and flood lights. Because La Lomita stands well within 150 feet of the existing levee, activists fear the historic structure could be razed. In an October online question-and-answer session, CBP responded vaguely: “It has not yet been decided how the La Lomita chapel will be accommodated.” The agency declined to answer questions for this story.

      This month, Congressional Democrats and Trump are feuding over further funding for the wall, but the administration already has the money it needs to build through La Lomita: $641 million was appropriated in March for 33 miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley. In October, the Department of Homeland security also invoked its anti-terrorism authority to waive a raft of pesky environmental and historic preservation regulations for a portion of that mileage, including La Lomita’s segment. No contract has been awarded for the stretch that would endanger the chapel yet, so there’s no certain start date, but CBP plans to start construction elsewhere in Hidalgo County as soon as February.

      Unlike in Arizona and California, the land along the Rio Grande — Texas’ riverine border — is almost entirely owned by a collection of farmers, hobbyist ranchers, entrepreneurs and deeply rooted Hispanic families who can truly say the border crossed them. Ninety-five percent of Texas borderland is private. That includes #La_Lomita, whose owner, the diocese in #Brownsville, has decided to fight back.

      Multiple times this year, court filings show, federal agents pressed the diocese to let them access the property so they could survey it, a necessary step before using eminent domain to take land for the wall. But the diocese has repeatedly said “no,” forcing the government to file a lawsuit in October seeking access to the property. The diocese shot back with a public statement, declaring that “church property should not be used for the purposes of building a border wall” and calling the wall “a sign contrary to the Church’s mission.”

      The diocese is also challenging the government in court. In a pair of recent court filings responding to the lawsuit, the diocese argues that federal agents should not be allowed to enter its property, much less construct the border wall, because doing so would violate both federal law and the First Amendment. It’s a legalistic version of Snipes’ claim that the wall would deter worshippers.

      “The wall would have a chilling effect on people going there and using the chapel, so in fact, it’s infringing or denying them their right to freedom of religion,” said David Garza, the Brownsville attorney representing the diocese. “We also don’t believe the government has a compelling interest to put the wall there; if they wanted to put technology or sensors, that might be a different story.”

      It’s a long-shot challenge, to be sure. Bush and Obama already built 110 miles of wall in Texas between 2008 and 2010, over the protests of numerous landowners. But this may be the first time anyone’s challenged the border wall on freedom-of-religion grounds. “I’ve been looking for the needle in the haystack, but a case of this nature, I’m not aware of,” Garza said. A hearing in the case is set for early January.

      When I visited the Mission area in November, Father Snipes insisted that we conduct our interview out on the Rio Grande at sunset. Two of his dogs joined us in the motorboat.

      As we dawdled upriver, watching the sky bleed from to red to purple, Snipes told me the story behind something I’d seen earlier that day: a trio of wooden crosses protruding from the ground between La Lomita and the levee. There, he said, he’d buried a llama and a pair of donkeys, animals who’d participated in Palm Sunday processions from his downtown church to La Lomita, reenactments of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. The animals had carried Jesus. So close to the levee, the gravesites would likely be destroyed during wall construction.

      As the day’s last light faded, Snipes turned wistful. “I thought the government was supposed to protect our freedom to promote goodness and truth and beauty,” he lamented. “Even if they won’t promote it themselves.”

      https://www.texasobserver.org/in-south-texas-the-catholic-church-vs-trumps-border-wall
      #Eglise #Eglise_catholique


  • EU border ’lie detector’ system criticised as pseudoscience

    Technology that analyses facial expressions being trialled in Hungary, Greece and Latvia.

    The EU has been accused of promoting pseudoscience after announcing plans for a “#smart_lie-detection_system” at its busiest borders in an attempt to identify illegal migrants.

    The “#lie_detector”, to be trialled in Hungary, Greece and Latvia, involves the use of a computer animation of a border guard, personalised to the traveller’s gender, ethnicity and language, asking questions via a webcam.

    The “deception detection” system will analyse the micro-expressions of those seeking to enter EU territory to see if they are being truthful about their personal background and intentions. Those arriving at the border will be required to have uploaded pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds.

    According to an article published by the European commission, the “unique approach to ‘deception detection’ analyses the micro-expressions of travellers to figure out if the interviewee is lying”.

    The project’s coordinator, George Boultadakis, who works for the technology supplier, European Dynamics, in Luxembourg, said: “We’re employing existing and proven technologies – as well as novel ones – to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks. The system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit.”

    Travellers who have been flagged as low risk by the #avatar, and its lie detector, will go through a short re-evaluation of their information for entry. Those judged to be of higher risk will undergo a more detailed check.

    Border officials will use a handheld device to automatically crosscheck information, comparing the facial images captured during the pre-screening stage to passports and photos taken on previous border crossings.

    When documents have been reassessed, and fingerprinting, palm-vein scanning and face matching have been carried out, the potential risk will be recalculated. A border guard will then take over from the automated system.

    The project, which has received €4.5m (£3.95m) in EU funding, has been heavily criticised by experts.

    Bruno Verschuere, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology at the University of Amsterdam, told the Dutch newspaper De Volskrant he believed the system would deliver unfair outcomes.
    A neuroscientist explains: the need for ‘empathetic citizens’ - podcast

    “Non-verbal signals, such as micro-expressions, really do not say anything about whether someone is lying or not,” he said. “This is the embodiment of everything that can go wrong with lie detection. There is no scientific foundation for the methods that are going to be used now.

    “Once these systems are put into use, they will not go away. The public will only hear the success stories and not the stories about those who have been wrongly stopped.”

    Verschuere said there was no evidence for the assumption that liars were stressed and that this translated to into fidgeting or subtle facial movements.

    Bennett Kleinberg, an assistant professor in data science at University College London, said: “This can lead to the implementation of a pseudoscientific border control.”

    A spokesman for the project said: “The border crossing decision is not based on the single tool (ie lie detection) but on the aggregated risk estimations based on a risk-based approach and technology that has been used widely in custom procedures.

    “Therefore, the overall procedure is safe because it is not relying in the risk on one analysis (ie the lie detector) but on the correlated risks from various analysis.”

    The technology has been designed by a consortium of the Hungarian national police, Latvian customs, and Manchester Metropolitan and Leibnitz universities. Similar technology is being developed in the US, where lie detection is widely used in law enforcement, despite scepticism over its scientific utility in much of the rest of the world.

    Last month, engineers at the University of Arizona said they had developed a system that they hoped to install on the US-Mexico border known as the #Automated_Virtual_Agent_for_Truth_Assessments_in_Real-Time, or Avatar.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/02/eu-border-lie-detection-system-criticised-as-pseudoscience?CMP=share_bt
    #wtf #what_the_fuck #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #technologie #expressions_faciales #Grèce #Hongrie #Lettonie #mensonge #abus #gardes-frontière #biométrie #biomarqueurs #corps #smart_borders #risques #université #science-fiction
    ping @reka @isskein

    • Smart lie-detection system to tighten EU’s busy borders

      An EU-funded project is developing a way to speed up traffic at the EU’s external borders and ramp up security using an automated border-control system that will put travellers to the test using lie-detecting avatars. It is introducing advanced analytics and risk-based management at border controls.

      More than 700 million people enter the EU every year – a number that is rapidly rising. The huge volume of travellers and vehicles is piling pressure on external borders, making it increasingly difficult for border staff to uphold strict security protocols – checking the travel documents and biometrics of every passenger – whilst keeping disruption to a minimum.

      To help, the EU-funded project IBORDERCTRL is developing an ‘intelligent control system’ facilitating – making faster – border procedures for bona fide and law-abiding travellers. In this sense, the project is aiming to deliver more efficient and secure land border crossings to facilitate the work of border guards in spotting illegal immigrants, and so contribute to the prevention of crime and terrorism.

      ‘We’re employing existing and proven technologies – as well as novel ones – to empower border agents to increase the accuracy and efficiency of border checks,’ says project coordinator George Boultadakis of European Dynamics in Luxembourg. ‘IBORDERCTRL’s system will collect data that will move beyond biometrics and on to biomarkers of deceit.’
      Smart ‘deception detection’

      The IBORDERCTRL system has been set up so that travellers will use an online application to upload pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds, then use a webcam to answer questions from a computer-animated border guard, personalised to the traveller’s gender, ethnicity and language. The unique approach to ‘deception detection’ analyses the micro-expressions of travellers to figure out if the interviewee is lying.

      This pre-screening step is the first of two stages. Before arrival at the border, it also informs travellers of their rights and travel procedures, as well as providing advice and alerts to discourage illegal activity.

      The second stage takes place at the actual border. Travellers who have been flagged as low risk during the pre-screening stage will go through a short re-evaluation of their information for entry, while higher-risk passengers will undergo a more detailed check.

      Border officials will use a hand-held device to automatically cross-check information, comparing the facial images captured during the pre-screening stage to passports and photos taken on previous border crossings. After the traveller’s documents have been reassessed, and fingerprinting, palm vein scanning and face matching have been carried out, the potential risk posed by the traveller will be recalculated. Only then does a border guard take over from the automated system.

      At the start of the IBORDERCTRL project, researchers spent a lot of time learning about border crossings from border officials themselves, through interviews, workshops, site surveys, and by watching them at work.

      It is hoped that trials about to start in Hungary, Greece and Latvia will prove that the intelligent portable control system helps border guards reliably identify travellers engaging in criminal activity. The trials will start with lab testing to familiarise border guards with the system, followed by scenarios and tests in realistic conditions along the borders.
      A mounting challenge

      ‘The global maritime and border security market is growing fast in light of the alarming terror threats and increasing terror attacks taking place on European Union soil, and the migration crisis,” says Boultadakis.

      As a consequence, the partner organisations of IBORDERCTRL are likely to benefit from this growing European security market – a sector predicted to be worth USD 146 billion (EUR 128 bn) in Europe by 2020.

      Project details

      Project acronym: #iBorderCtrl
      Participants: Luxembourg (Coordinator), Greece, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Latvia
      Project N°: 700626
      Total costs: € 4 501 877
      EU contribution: € 4 501 877
      Duration: September 2016 to August 2019


      http://ec.europa.eu/research/infocentre/article_en.cfm?artid=49726

    • AVATAR - Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time

      There are many circumstances, particularly in a border-crossing scenario, when credibility must be accurately assessed. At the same time, since people deceive for a variety of reasons, benign and nefarious, detecting deception and determining potential risk are extremely difficult. Using artificial intelligence and non-invasive sensor technologies, BORDERS has developed a screening system called the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time (AVATAR). The AVATAR is designed to flag suspicious or anomalous behavior that warrants further investigation by a trained human agent in the field. This screening technology may be useful at Land Ports of Entry, airports, detention centers, visa processing, asylum requests, and personnel screening.

      The AVATAR has the potential to greatly assist DHS by serving as a force multiplier that frees personnel to focus on other mission-critical tasks, and provides more accurate decision support and risk assessment. This can be accomplished by automating interviews and document/biometric collection, and delivering real-time multi-sensor credibility assessments in a screening environment. In previous years, we have focused on conducting the basic research on reliably analyzing human behavior for deceptive cues, better understanding the DHS operational environment, and developing and testing a prototype system.

      Principal Investigators:
      #Aaron_Elkins
      #Doug_Derrick
      #Jay_Nunamaker, Jr.
      #Judee_Burgoon
      Status:
      Current

      http://borders.arizona.edu/cms/projects/avatar-automated-virtual-agent-truth-assessments-real-time
      #University_of_Arizona

    • Un #détecteur_de_mensonges bientôt testé aux frontières de l’Union européenne

      L’Union européenne va tester dans un avenir proche un moyen de réguler le passage des migrants sur certaines de ses frontières, en rendant celui-ci plus simple et plus rapide. Ce moyen prendra la forme d’un détecteur de mensonges basé sur l’intelligence artificielle.

      Financé depuis 2016 par l’UE, le projet iBorderCtrl fera bientôt l’objet d’un test qui se déroulera durant six mois sur quatre postes-frontière situés en Hongrie, en Grèce et en Lettonie. Il s’avère que chaque année, environ 700 millions de nouvelles personnes arrivent dans l’UE, et les gardes-frontières ont de plus en plus de mal à effectuer les vérifications d’usage.

      Ce projet iBorderCtrl destiné à aider les gardes-frontières n’est autre qu’un détecteur de mensonges reposant sur une intelligence artificielle. Il s’agit en somme d’une sorte de garde frontière virtuel qui, après avoir pris connaissance des documents d’un individu (passeport, visa et autres), lui fera passer un interrogatoire. Ce dernier devra donc faire face à une caméra et répondre à des questions.

      L’IA en question observera la personne et fera surtout attention aux micro-mouvements du visage, le but étant de détecter un éventuel mensonge. À la fin de l’entretien, l’individu se verra remettre un code QR qui déterminera son appartenance à une des deux files d’attente, c’est-à-dire les personnes acceptées et celles – sur lesquelles il subsiste un doute – qui feront l’objet d’un entretien plus poussé avec cette fois, des gardes-frontières humains.

      Le système iBorderCtrl qui sera bientôt testé affiche pour l’instant un taux de réussite de 74 %, mais les porteurs du projet veulent atteindre au moins les 85 %. Enfin, évoquons le fait que ce dispositif pose assez logiquement des questions éthiques, et a déjà de nombreux opposants  !

      L’IA a été présentée lors du Manchester Science Festival qui s’est déroulé du 18 au 29 octobre 2018, comme le montre la vidéo ci-dessous :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fsd3Ubqi38

      https://sciencepost.fr/2018/11/un-detecteur-de-mensonges-bientot-teste-aux-frontieres-de-lunion-europee


  • New studies show how easy it is to identify people using genetic databases - STAT
    https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/11/genetic-databases-privacy

    n recent months, consumer genealogy websites have unleashed a revolution in forensics, allowing law enforcement to use family trees to track down the notorious Golden State Killer in California and solve other cold cases across the country. But while the technique has put alleged killers behind bars, it has also raised questions about the implications for genetic privacy.

    According to a pair of studies published Thursday, your genetic privacy may have already eroded even further than previously realized.

    In an analysis published in the journal Science, researchers used a database run by the genealogy company MyHeritage to look at the genetic information of nearly 1.3 million anonymized people who’ve had their DNA analyzed by a direct-to-consumer genomics company. For nearly 60 percent of those people, it was possible to track down someone whose DNA was similar enough to indicate they were third cousins or closer in relation; for another 15 percent of the samples, second cousins or closer could be found.

    Yaniv Erlich, the lead author on the Science paper, said his team’s findings should prompt regulators and others to reconsider the assumption that genetic information is de-identified. “It’s really not the case. At least technically, it seems feasible to identify some significant part of the population” with such investigations, said Erlich, who’s a computer scientist at Columbia University and chief science officer at MyHeritage.

    The Science paper counted 12 cold cases that were solved between April and August of this year when law enforcement turned to building family trees based on genetic data; a 13th case was an active investigation.

    The most famous criminal identified this way: the Golden State Killer, who terrorized California with a series of rapes and murders in the 1970s and 1980s. With the help of a genetic genealogist, investigators uploaded a DNA sample collected from an old crime scene to a public genealogy database, built family trees, and tracked down relatives. They winnowed down their list of potential suspects to one man with blue eyes, and in April, they made the landmark arrest.

    To crack that case, the California investigators used GEDmatch, an online database that allows people who got their DNA analyzed by companies like 23andMe and Ancestry to upload their raw genetic data so that they can track down distant relatives. MyHeritage’s database — which contains data from 1.75 million people, mostly Americans who’ve gotten their DNA analyzed by MyHeritage’s genetic testing business — works similarly, although it explicitly prohibits forensic searches. (23andMe warns users about the privacy risks of uploading their genetic data to such third party sites.)

    “For me, these articles are fascinating and important and we shouldn’t shy away from the privacy concerns that these articles raise. But at the same time, we should keep in mind the personal and societal value that we believe that we are accruing as we make these large collections,” said Green, who was not involved in the new studies and is an adviser for genomics companies including Helix and Veritas Genetics.

    He pointed to the potential of genomics not only to reunite family members and put criminals behind bars, but also to predict and prevent heritable diseases and develop new drugs.

    As with using social media and paying with credit cards online, reaping the benefits of genetic testing requires accepting a certain level of privacy risk, Green said. “We make these tradeoffs knowing that we’re trading some vulnerability for the advantages,” he said.

    #Génomique #ADN #Vie_privée


  • James A. Winnefeld Speaks Out on the Opioid Crisis - The Atlantic
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/10/james-winnefeld-speaks-out-opioid-crisis/572128

    When speaking to Andersen, Winnefeld described how Jonathan was a quiet, kind, and clever kid, who suffered from anxiety and depression. After a false diagnosis of attention deficit disorder, Jonathan began drinking to come down from the Adderall he had been prescribed, and later moved on to harder substances such as opioids. Winnefeld and his wife tried to get Jonathan into intensive outpatient treatment, but no centers had space. During his senior year of high school, Jonathan began to spiral downward. He tried, unsuccessfully, to take his own life.

    “We realized, at that point, that we could not keep our son safe,” Winnefeld said.

    After about five days of searching, Winnefeld found a treatment center to take Jonathan. And after 15 months of treatment, Jonathan began to return to whom he once was. “It takes that long for the brain to recover from the physiological, psychological changes that have taken place,” Winnefeld said. “We saw his ambition come back. We saw his zest for life.”

    During his treatment, Jonathan received his emergency-medical-technician qualifications. In an admissions essay to the University of Denver, Jonathan wrote about a time when he had to administer CPR to someone undergoing a heroin overdose in a McDonald’s bathroom. Winnefeld shared how Jonathan wrote that “at that moment, he had decided he would dedicate his life to helping people who could not help themselves.”

    Yet addiction is a powerful thing, Winnefeld explained. Three weeks later, Jonathan passed away, relapsing on heroin that had been laced with fentanyl.

    So the Winnefelds started SAFE, which Andersen described as “amazingly comprehensive in its approach to the opioid epidemic.” SAFE combats the opioid crisis from six different angles. It works on public awareness and trying to lower the stigma of addiction. It also focuses on prevention in vulnerable populations such as high schools, and seeks to have doctors moderate their prescription of opioids.

    The nonprofit also emphasizes law enforcement’s response to opioid addiction, trying to assure that addiction isn’t criminalized. SAFE considers medical response critical to fighting the crisis, and works to make sure every first responder is equipped with the lifesaving drug naloxone, which can reverse the symptoms of an overdose.

    #Opioides #USA


  • Shadowy Black Axe group leaves trail of tattered lives - The Globe and Mail
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/shadowy-black-axe-group-leaves-trail-of-tattered-lives/article27244946

    Canadian police say they are fighting a new kind of criminal organization.

    The signs began to appear two years ago: photos on Facebook of men wearing odd, matching outfits.

    Then there were stories, even old police files, attached to the people in the photos: a kidnapping, a man run over by a car, brutal beatings over what seemed to be a small slight.

    Mapping a secret criminal hierarchy for the first time is a rare kind of detective work. So when two Toronto police officers and an RCMP analyst in British Columbia started documenting the existence of something called the “Black Axe, Canada Zone,” they could not have predicted it would take them to funerals, suburban barbecue joints and deep into African history before they understood what they were seeing.

    The Black Axe is feared in Nigeria, where it originated. It is a “death cult,” one expert said. Once an idealistic university fraternity, the group has been linked to decades of murders and rapes, and its members are said to swear a blood oath.

    Most often, the group is likened to the Mob or to biker gangs, especially as it spreads outside Nigeria.

    An investigation by The Globe and Mail that included interviews with about 20 people found that “Axemen,” as they call themselves, are setting up chapters around the world, including in Canada.

    Like any criminal organization, it focuses on profit, police say. But instead of drug or sex trafficking, it specializes in a crime many consider minor and non-violent: scamming.

    What police have also learned is that, when done on an “industrial” level as part of a professional global network, scams ruin lives on a scale they have rarely seen.

    Two weeks ago, at a news conference attended by FBI officers, Toronto police announced they had taken part in an international crackdown on a money-laundering network through which more than $5-billion flowed in just over a year. Two local men charged with defrauding a Toronto widow of her life’s savings will eventually face extradition to the United States on money-laundering charges, they said.

    Online fraud is fluid, global and hard-to-track, but it often requires local operatives. Several Toronto-area residents have been defrauded of at least $1-million each in the past two years, and police allege the money was wired with the help of Canadian residents linked to the Black Axe, and sometimes it was handed to the group’s associates in person. The recipients then sent the money ricocheting through bank accounts around the globe, with trusted members in countries on every continent helping with the transfers before it disappeared.

    The sophistication of the money-laundering scheme reflects the efficiency of the scams, in which several people assume false identities and mix reality – bank accounts, real names and real websites – with fake documents.

    The police added an extra charge for one of the men they arrested, Akohomen Ighedoise, 41: “participating in a criminal organization.”

    Officers said in an interview they seized documents that will prove in court that Mr. Ighedoise separately helped a network of fraudsters launder money, that the fraudsters are members of the Black Axe and that he is their bookkeeper. The charge is the first time a Canadian has been publicly linked to the group.

    Interviews with police, gang experts and Nigerian academics paint a picture of an organization both public and enigmatic, with an ostensible charitable purpose as well as secret codes and a strict hierarchy. Police say it has grown to 200 people across Canada.

    Officers in Canada first heard the name “Black Axe” less than two years ago, said Tim Trotter, a detective constable with the Toronto Police Service. They are working quickly, trying to stop the group from becoming entrenched.

    “I mean, 100 years ago, law enforcement dealt with the same thing, the Sicilian black hand, right? It meant nothing to anybody except the Sicilian community,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “And that’s what we have here – that’s what we believe we have here.”

    **

    Many scam victims lose a few thousand dollars. Soraya Emami, one of Toronto’s most recent victims, lost everything, including many friends.

    In 1988, Ms. Emami fled her native Iran with her four sons. Her husband was jailed by the regime and his passport was held for years. Ms. Emami flew to Canada and became a real estate agent in North York.

    It took 30 years to save for a nice house in quiet Stouffville, Ont. The rest of her earnings went to her boys, who grew up to be a doctor, an engineer, a computer engineer and a bank manager. Last year, the youngest – a fifth son, born in Canada – began university. She and her husband had never reunited, and for the first time in decades, Ms. Emami thought about dating.

    “My kids grow up, and I feel lonely,” said the 63-year-old, who has long, wavy black hair. “I didn’t know how, and because I’m not [used to] any relationship, I feel shy.”

    Ms. Emami saw a TV commercial for Match.com and joined, hesitantly. A few days later, she told a friend she had heard from a tanned, white-haired, very nice geologist. Fredrick Franklin said he lived just 45 minutes away, in Toronto’s wealthy Bridle Path neighbourhood.

    He had spent years in Australia, and when they talked on the phone, she could not always understand his thick accent at first. He called her several times a day from Vancouver, where he was on a business trip, then from Turkey, where he travelled on a short contract. He was to fly home via Delta airlines on May 5. She would pick him up from the airport, and they would finally meet.

    “I am a simple man in nature, very easy going,” he wrote in an e-mail, telling her about his son and granddaughters. “I have done the Heart and Stroke ride in Toronto for the past 2 years, have also done the MS ride from London to Grand Bend.”

    A few days before his return date, Mr. Franklin called Ms. Emami in a panic. His bank had told him someone had tried to gain access to his account, he said. He could not clear it up from rural Turkey, so would she mind calling the bank and reporting back with his balance? He e-mailed the phone number for SunTrust bank, a 10-digit account number and a nine-digit tax ID number.

    She spoke to a bank teller. The balance, she was told, was $18-million.

    A few days later, Mr. Franklin asked for a small favour – could she send him a new phone and laptop – saying he would repay her upon his return. She acquiesced, believing he could pay her back.

    Within a few weeks, she lost half a million dollars, and the scam would cost her the home in Stouffville.

    What perplexes police about some of the Toronto romance frauds is not how the victims could be so naive, but how the fraudsters could be so convincing.

    The SunTrust account appears to be real, The Globe determined after retracing the steps Ms. Emami took to access it. The bank said it could not verify the account’s existence, as that was client-related information.

    In the course of the scam, Ms. Emami spoke to at least five people other than the Aussie geologist, including two in person.

    In June, in what they called Project Unromantic, York Regional Police charged nine local people in several cases, including that of Ms. Emami, that added up to $1.5-million. They considered the criminals to be internationally connected. “We don’t know who’s at the top, but there seems to be a hierarchy,” Detective Courtney Chang said.

    The Toronto police believe the crimes that led to their charges against Mr. Ighedoise are linked to the ones in York Region.

    *

    Canadian police came across the Black Axe by happenstance. In 2013, an RCMP analyst in Vancouver was investigating a West Coast fraud suspect and found a photo of him on Facebook with another man, said Det. Constable Trotter (the analyst would not speak to The Globe). Both were wearing unusual clothes and seemed to be at a meeting in Toronto.

    The analyst discovered the second man was under investigation by Toronto financial crimes detective Mike Kelly, an old partner of Det. Constable Trotter. The analyst e-mailed Det. Constable Kelly to ask if he knew the significance of what the two men in the photo were wearing.

    The uniform of the Black Axe is a black beret, a yellow soccer scarf and high yellow socks. These items often have a patch or insignia showing two manacled hands with an axe separating the chain between them, which sometimes also says “Black Axe” or “NBM,” standing for “Neo-Black Movement,” another name for the group. They often incorporate the numbers seven or 147.

    The group tries to maintain a public image of volunteerism. It has been registered as a corporation in Ontario since 2012 under the name “Neo-Black Movement of Africa North America,” with Mr. Ighedoise among several people listed as administrators. In the United Kingdom, said Det. Constable Trotter, it has been known to make small donations – to a local hospital, for example – and then claim to be in a “partnership” with the legitimate organization.

    In the GTA, the group got itself listed publicly in 2013 as a member of Volunteer MBC, a volunteer centre serving Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. But after expressing an interest in recruiting volunteers, the group involved never posted an ad, and staff at the centre said when they tried to follow up, they found the three yahoo.com addresses on file were no longer working.

    Police found plenty of photos on social media of men in Axemen uniforms at what were said to be conferences or events.

    Det. Constable Kelly and Det. Constable Trotter compiled a list of people in Canada photographed wearing Axemen outfits. From a car, they watched some of them attend a funeral. One mourner had yellow socks and a yellow cummerbund with NBM on it, Det. Constable Trotter said. The rest were dressed normally. Near the end of the ceremony, “all of a sudden the berets and everything came out, and then they put the coffin into the earth,” he said.

    As they added names to their list, the investigators checked each one for connections to previous cases.

    What they found were 10 to 20 episodes of serious violence over the past few years clearly linked to members of the group, many of them at a Nigerian restaurant in northwest Toronto, Det. Constable Trotter said. One man had been run over by a car; another was allegedly kidnapped and beaten with a liquor bottle for a day in an abandoned building; a man was knocked to the ground for refusing to fetch another man a beer. Witnesses generally refused to talk.

    In one incident, a group of men had insulted another man’s girlfriend, and when he objected, they “beat the living hell” out of him, leaving him with cranial fractures, Det. Constable Trotter said.

    “Without the understanding of the context, it’s just a bar fight,” he said. “But when we understand who those people were, and we realize, oh, they’re all affiliated to the group … that’s why no one called [911]. And that’s why, when the police came, suddenly, oh no, those cameras don’t work. And that’s why, out of a bar full of people, the only witness was his girlfriend.”

    That case and the kidnapping case are before the courts, Det. Constable Trotter said. The Globe tried to search for all court records linked to the bar’s address over the past few years, but was told such a search is impossible.

    Police have six criteria to identify members of the group, Det. Constable Trotter said. If a person meets three of the six, he is considered a likely member.

    Police have documents that show when certain people were “blended” or initiated into the group, including some in Toronto, he said. Members live mostly in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

    “There’s evidence that they’ve been active since 2005, so that’s a decade’s worth of ability to lay under the radar and become ensconced in the criminal community,” he said.

    To set up scams, they work from cafés or home and are “fastidious” about deleting their online history, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “They have names, titles, they show respect,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “They pay dues to each other. Individuals are detailed by higher-ranking individuals to do things.”

    As they learned of the group’s fearsome reputation in Nigeria, the officers began to equate it more with established Canadian organized crime. At Afrofest in Woodbine Park one summer, a group of Axemen walked through in full uniform – not something anyone from the Nigerian community would do lightly, Det. Constable Trotter said. “I wouldn’t wear a Hells Angels vest if I wasn’t a Hells Angel.”

    He began to worry the group’s brazenness would signify to the community that “Axemen are here. And they’re open about it, and the police are doing nothing.”

    *

    Fraternities such as the Black Axe were born during an optimistic time in Nigeria’s recent history, and at first they reflected it. In the postcolonial 1970s, they were modelled after U.S. fraternities. They attracted top students and were meant to foster pan-African unity and Nigeria’s future leaders.

    When the country descended into widespread corruption after its oil boom, the fraternities split into factions and violently sought power on campuses, trying to control grades and student politics and gain the loyalty of the richest, best-connected students.

    Through the 1990s and 2000s, the groups inspired terror: Students were hacked to death or shot in their sleep, and professors were murdered in their offices in what seemed to be random attacks. Researchers say such crimes were often assigned to new members in their late teens to prove their allegiance after a painful hazing in an isolated cemetery or forest.

    “Sometimes, they are given some tough assignments like raping a very popular female student or a female member of the university staff,” Adewale Rotimi wrote in a 2005 scholarly article.

    Raping the daughters of rich and powerful families, or the girlfriends of enemies, was another tactic of the groups to prove their dominance, Ifeanyi Ezeonu wrote in 2013.

    In addition to innocent victims, one West African organization fighting cult violence says more than 1,700 fraternity members died in inter-group wars in a 10-year span. The groups were outlawed, and much of their ritualistic element – night-time ceremonies, code words – seemed to evolve to avoid detection, said Ogaga Ifowodo, who was a student in Nigeria during the 1980s and later taught at Cornell and Texas State universities.

    “Early on … you could distinguish them by their costume,” he said. “The Black Axe, they tended to wear black berets, black shirt and jeans.”

    The transformation was not a coincidence, Mr. Ifowodo said.

    “At that time, we were under military dictatorships, and they had actually propped up the now-secret cults as a way of weakening the students’ movements,” he said. “It violates something that I think is sacred to an academic community, which is bringing into campus a kind of Mafia ethos.”

    But this does not explain whether, or how, the fraternities could morph into a sophisticated global crime syndicate.

    In Nigeria, the groups are not associated with fraud, said Etannibi Alemika, who teaches at Nigeria’s University of Jos. Mr. Ifowodo agreed. However, he also backed Toronto Police’s conclusion that Black Axe is one and the same as the Neo-Black Movement. In a briefing document posted online, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board says the two are closely linked, but speculates that the Black Axe is a “splinter group” of the NBM.

    The NBM is known to carry out fraud, said Jonathan Matusitz, a professor at the University of Central Florida who has studied Nigerian fraternities. He said the group’s members have also been linked, mostly in Nigeria, to drug trafficking, pimping, extortion, and the falsification or copying of passports and credit cards.

    “I think that the NBM movement is more about scamming people, and it has some associations with the Black Axe, which kills people,” he said. “Have they joined forces to have like a super-group? I hope not.”

    Despite police fears, several people interviewed by The Globe, mostly business owners, said they had never heard of the Black Axe before the police news conference last week.

    Kingsley Jesuorobo, a Toronto lawyer who has many Nigerian-Canadian clients, said he has never heard of anyone being intimidated by the group.

    Mr. Jesuorobo said he is familiar with the Black Axe in the Nigerian context, but cannot imagine it posing a real threat in Canada. It is more likely that former members gravitate to each other for social reasons, he said.

    “It would be a case of comparing apples and oranges to look at how these guys operate – the impunity that characterizes their actions – in Nigeria, and then sort of come to the conclusion that they can do the same thing here,” he said.

    For Nigerian-Canadians, a cultural minority working hard to establish themselves, the idea is very troubling, he said.

    “If these things are true, it would be a bad omen for our community,” he said.

    *

    After confirming her love interest’s $18-million bank balance, Ms. Emami did not hear from him for a few days. When they spoke again, she told him she had worried. He responded that it was a sign of how close they had become; she had sensed something had happened.

    The geologist said that during his contract in Turkey, he had been in a mining accident. He was injured and could not get to Istanbul to replace his phone and laptop, which had been destroyed, so would she buy new ones and send them by courier? Ms. Emami went to the Apple Store at Fairview Mall and called him, asking if he could pay with his credit card over the phone. He said the store would not allow it, and the employee agreed. So she bought the $4,000 laptop and phone and shipped them.

    A few days later, he called again: He needed $80,000 to pay the salary of an employee, promising to repay with interest. She told him she would have to borrow from her son, but he reassured her, and she wired the money in several instalments.

    The day of his flight, a man called and said he was Mr. Franklin’s lawyer and was with him at the Istanbul airport. Someone injured in the mining accident had died, he said, and Mr. Franklin owed $130,000 to his family or he would go to jail.

    “He’s calling me, he’s crying to me,” she said. “I didn’t have any choice. I go to friends and everybody I know. Because you know, when you’re trying to be a good person, everybody trusts you. …Whatever I asked, they give me.”

    Even a friend of a friend, a cab driver, lent her thousands. “He told me, you know, dollar by dollar I collected this money,” she recalled.

    Mr. Franklin sent her details of his rebooked flight, and she promised to pick him up and cook a meal. He would love that, he said; he liked chicken.

    “You don’t believe how much food I make for him,” she said.

    She was waiting with the packed-up meal the morning of his flight when the phone rang again. It was another lawyer, this time at the Frankfurt airport, he said. Mr. Franklin owed $250,000 in tax before he could leave the country with a valuable stone.

    “My heart is just – crash,” she said. “I was crying on the phone. I said, ’Please don’t do this to me. … Why are you doing this to me? I told you from the first day, I’m borrowing this money from people.’”

    A man saying he was Mr. Franklin’s son, who also had an Australian accent, called and told her he had remortgaged his house to save his father and might lose custody of his children because of it. Ms. Emami pulled together $158,000. When her bank would not let her transfer the money, she was instructed to meet a man and a woman in person who deposited it into their accounts.

    Ms. Emami’s son and her manager at work persuaded her to go to police. When officers told her Mr. Franklin was not real and the money was likely gone for good, they called a psychiatrist to help her grasp the news.

    She cannot pay her bills or afford groceries, her credit rating is destroyed and she is hunting for work despite crippling headaches. On Oct. 27, she was served with notice that she will lose her house in Stouffville in 20 days.

    “I can’t sleep,” she said recently, crying.

    She had always considered it her “duty” to help people in need, she said. Now her friends, even her sons, are angry that the scam impoverished them as well.

    “It’s my life, it’s my relationships,” she said. “And after 30 years living here with five kids, you know, I can’t live in the street. I can’t go to the shelter.”

    *

    Other local women describe the lengths fraudsters went to to blend truth and fiction. One received a forged Ontario provincial contract. Two victims in York said the scammers impersonated an Edmonton mining executive. The fraudsters build Facebook and LinkedIn accounts that seem to be populated by friends and family.

    “When we Google them, they do seem real,” one woman said.

    Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a federal intelligence-gathering agency on fraud, said the scammers profit from economies of scale. “What they did to you, they were doing to 8,000 people that day,” he said.

    The agency gets more calls from fraud victims a day than it can answer, sometimes exceeding 2,000. Staff look for waves of calls complaining of the same methods.

    Authorities estimate they are only ever aware of about 1 per cent to 5 per cent of fraud committed globally, Mr. Williams said. Many victims do not believe they have been scammed or will not report it out of embarrassment.

    Fraudsters, sometimes using credit checks, also home in on well-off victims for special treatment, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “It’s just like, oh, we’ve got somebody on $100,000 level, let’s steer this to this person,” he said.

    The amount taken from Toronto victims alone is “absolutely astonishing,” he said.

    “If you were going to distribute cocaine, for example, you have to buy that cocaine from another smuggler somewhere, and you have to put up money for that,” he said.

    “In fraud, what is your put-up? What is your overhead? Your commodity that you’re trading in, that you’re selling, is BS. BS is cheap, it’s abundant, it’s infinite. You know, it can be replicated again and again and again and again. … And that’s why it’s a better business.”

    Fraudsters based in Canada work with people in Kuala Lumpur, in Tokyo, in Lagos, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    At the turn of the 20th century in New York, Italian-owned banks started suffering bombings, and homes were mysteriously burned down. Police heard the incidents happened after warnings from something called the “black hand.” But no officers spoke Italian, and investigations were stymied.

    It was not until the 1950s that widespread police crackdowns began. By that time, the group now known as the Mafia had spread around the world and made new alliances. The FBI estimates the organization has about 25,000 members and a quarter-million affiliates worldwide, including about 3,000 in the United States.

    Police hope the charge against Mr. Ighedoise will send an early message to Canada’s Axemen. York and Toronto officers are working to confirm connections between the fraud ring that impoverished Ms. Emami and the ring that Mr. Ighedoise is alleged to help lead.

    At their recent press conference, they appealed to the Nigerian community to report instances where the Black Axe has “intimidated” others.

    They want to know how ambitious the group really is, Det. Constable Trotter said, and how much it is feared.

    If Axemen rely on selling stories, he said, the most important one is for their own community: “That [they] have all the power and authority and the propensity for violence that [they] have back home, here in Canada.”

    #Canada #scam #Nigeria #Black_Axe


  • 08/07: 19 travellers at Turkish-Greek landborder, pushed-back to Turkey

    Watch The Med Alarm Phone Investigations – 8th of July 2018

    Case name: 2018_07_08-AEG406
    Situation: 19 travellers at Turkish-Greek landborder, pushed-back to Turkey
    Status of WTM Investigation: Concluded

    Place of Incident: Aegean Sea

    Summary of the Case:

    On Sunday, 8th of July, at 11:14pm CEST, we were alerted to a group of travellers stuck near #Tichero, Greece, close to the Turkish landborder. The group consisted of 19 people, among them a 1-year-old child, a pregnant lady and a man that had a broken leg. At 12:11pm we managed to establish contact to the travellers. They were afraid of being pushed-back to Turkey by the police and asked for medical aid and the possibility to seek asylum in Greece. We asked them for a list of their names and birth dates in order to alert UNHCR. At 1:02am we received the list. We couldn’t get back in contact until 1:47am. The group decided not to move further and to wait until the morning for the UNHCR office to open so they could call there.
    At 8:30am we called UNHCR and asked for assistance. At 8:45am we also called the local police station but the operator refused to speak to us in English. We told the group to call 112 themselves for assistance. Until 9:30am we couldn’t reach any local police station. At 9:50am we sent an email to the local authorities and UNHCR to inform them about the people. Afterwards we continuously tried again to get in touch with the authorities and the group, but couldn’t establish a connection any more. At 2pm we reached the police in Alexandropolis. They informed us that they were searching since one hour but hadn’t found the travellers. During the afternoon, we couldn’t get any news and didn’t reach the travellers anymore. At 6:53pm the police informed us that they had not found the group yet. The next day at 11:02am we were informed by a contact person that the group had been found and that they had been allegedly violently pushed-back to Turkey. At 12:45am we managed to reach the group itself. They told us that the police had found them at 5:00pm the day before and put them in „a prison“. At 10:00pm the police had told the group that they were being moved to a camp to apply for international protection. However, the police instead brought them back to the river and handed them to officers discribed as „military“, who forced them onto a boat and across Evros border river back to Turkey. The police officers before had confiscated personal belongings of the refugees, including mobile phones, money, passports and the food for the baby.

    http://watchthemed.net/reports/view/943

    #Evros #Grèce #frontières #Turquie #push-back #refoulement #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    • WSJ: Turks fleeing Erdogan fuel new influx of refugees to Greece

      Thousands of Turks flee Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government against the Kurds and the Gülen Group in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
      Around 14,000 people crossed the Evros frontier from January through September of this year, more than double the number for the whole of last year, according to the Greek police. Around half of them were Turkish citizens, according to estimates from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency. Many are judges, military personnel, civil servants or business people who have fallen under Turkish authorities’ suspicion, had their passports canceled and chosen an illegal route out.
      Nearly 4,000 Turks have applied for asylum in Greece so far this year. But most Turkish arrivals don’t register their presence in Greece, planning instead to head deeper into Europe and further from Turkey.

      About 30 Turks have been arriving on a daily basis since the failed coup, according to Kathimerini, there were zero arrivals from Turkey in 2015. However, thousands of Turkish citizens have started claiming asylum in Greece since “Erdogan stepped up his crackdown against his opponents since the failed coup attempt.”

      The Wall Street Journal interviewed some of the purge-victim families in Greece:

      “In the dead of night, Yunuz Cagar and his wife Cansu gave their baby some herbal tea to help her sleep, donned backpacks and followed smugglers on a muddy path along the Evros river, evading fences and border guards until they reached Greece.

      Mr. Cagar, a 29-year-old court clerk, was living a quiet life with his family in a provincial town near Istanbul until Turkey’s crackdown after a failed military coup in 2016 turned their world upside down. Judges, colleagues and friends were arrested. He lost his job and had to move the family into his parents’ attic. Mr. Cagar was arrested and spent four months in prison. His crime, he says, was downloading a messaging app, an act he says the state treated as evidence of supporting terrorism.
      The flow of asylum seekers crossing the Greek-Turkish border along the Evros river is rising for the first time since the peak of Europe’s migration crisis in 2015. This time, though, the increase is mainly due to Turks fleeing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his dragnet against real or imagined followers of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses Mr. Gulen, an ex-ally turned enemy of Mr. Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup attempt.

      “We didn’t say goodbye to anyone before leaving,” said Mr. Cagar, who is now in Athens trying to find some way to get to Germany. His wife and child already made it there with the help of smugglers who have demanded a hefty price. “We began our journey with €13,000 ($14,700) and I have €1,500 left,” he said.

      Ahmed, a 30-year-old former F-16 pilot in the Turkish air force, spends his days talking to smugglers and trying to find a way out. “My dream is Canada, but the reality is Omonoia,” he said, referring to the gritty square in downtown Athens where migrants and smugglers mingle.

      A few months after the coup attempt, Ahmed said, he was dismissed, accused of Gulenist links, arrested and beaten, after another officer denounced him. He said he has no connections with Mr. Gulen’s network. He was released pending trial, but decided to flee when a prison term appeared unavoidable.

      Yilmaz Bilir, his wife Ozlem and their four children were on vacation when the coup attempt happened. Mr. Bilir, who worked at the information-technology department of Turkey’s foreign ministry, found out months later that he was suspected of Gulenist links, which he denies. The family went into hiding, staying with relatives and friends. Mr. Bilir was arrested when he briefly visited his own home and neighbors called the police. When he was released pending trial, the family decided to leave Turkey.

      Mr. Bilir made it to Germany using a forged passport and has applied for asylum there. His wife and children have applied to join him.

      Mrs. Bilir, stuck for now in Athens, remembers how happy the family was when they crossed the river Evros one summer night. “It was an endless walk, but we were happy, because we were away together,” she said. “I was so stressed in Turkey that I couldn’t sleep well for months, but that first night in detention in Greece, I finally slept.”

      After the coup, Meral Budak was suspended from her job as a teacher. Her husband was a journalist at Zaman, a major Turkish newspaper linked to Mr. Gulen’s movement. He had a valid U.S. visa and was able to travel to Canada, where he now works as an Uber driver. His 18-year-old son joined him a few months later.

      Mrs. Budak and the couple’s 15-year-old son Ali remained in Turkey and soon had their passports revoked. They went into hiding for a year. “The most traumatic memory was when I burned hundreds of books,” she said. “Even my children’s school books could be considered evidence, since the publishing companies were funded by Gulen.”
      On Jan. 1 of this year, Mrs. Budak and Ali undertook the long walk across the Evros and into Greece, where they now wait to join the rest of the family in Canada.

      “When I was walking through Greek villages, I realized my life was never going to be the same,” Mrs. Budak said. “I was walking into the unknown.”
      Read the full report on: https://www.wsj.com/articles/turks-fleeing-erdogan-fuel-new-influx-of-refugees-to-greece-1543672801

      https://turkeypurge.com/wsj-turks-fleeing-erdogan-fuel-new-influx-of-refugees-to-greece
      #réfugiés_turcs

    • Fourth migrant found dead near border, Greek ’pushback’ suspected

      Bodies of migrants keep piling up on Turkey’s border with Greece, while Greece denies it is involved in illegal “pushback” practices. Villagers in Adasarhanlı, where the body of another migrant was found earlier this week, alerted authorities after they discovered a body in a rice field, a short distance from the Turkish-Greek border, late Wednesday. The man is believed to be an illegal migrant forced to walk back to Turkey in freezing temperatures by Greek police as part of their controversial pushback practice.

      An initial investigation shows the man froze to death three days ago, and there were lesions on his body stemming from prolonged exposure to water.

      İbrahim Dalkıran, the leader of the village, said they have seen a large number of migrants recently in the area, and many took shelter, in wet clothes or half naked, in Adasarhanlı. “This is a humanitarian situation. Greece sends back migrants almost every three or four days. Some arrive injured, and we call a doctor. It is sad to see them in such a state,” Dalkıran told reporters.

      Olga Gerovasili, Greece’s minister for citizen protection whose ministry oversees border security, has denied previous allegations of pushback and told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Greece is not involved in such incidents. Yet, figures provided to AA by Turkish security sources show many illegal migrants were forced to go back to Turkey by Greek officials, with some 2,490 migrants being pushed back in November alone. The agency reports that some 300 of them were subjected to mistreatment by Greek security forces, ranging from beatings to being forced to go back half naked to the Turkish side of the border.

      Three bodies, believed to be Afghan or Pakistani migrants, were found in three villages in Edirne, the Turkish province that borders Greece. More than 70,000 illegal migrants were intercepted in Edirne between January and November, a high number compared to the 47,731 stopped last year as they tried to cross into Greece despite an increase in pushback reports.

      Under international laws and conventions, Greece is obliged to register any illegal migrants entering its territory; yet, this is not the case for some migrants. Security sources say that accounts of migrants interviewed by Turkish migration authority staff and social workers show that they are forced to return to Turkey, where they arrived from their homelands with the hope of reaching Europe.

      Pırıl Erçoban, a coordinator for the Association for Solidarity with Refugees (Mülteci-Der), says pushback constitutes a serious crime. She said it was “sad and unacceptable” that three migrants died, the number of deaths illustrates a serious problem. “It sheds light on the fact that pushback is being applied. It is still a crime to send those people back, even if they can make it back to Turkey alive,” Erçoban told AA. She says pushback was also taking place on migrant sea journeys, but has stopped, although the practice has continued on land. “Both Greece and Bulgaria are involved in this practice. Our figures show some 11,000 [illegal migrants] entered Turkey from Greece and Bulgaria, though not all of them were forced; we believe a substantial portion of returns are the result of pushback,” she said, adding returns were mostly via Greece. Erçoban said taking legal action to help migrants forced to return was difficult, as they could not reach the victims. “There should be administrative and criminal sanctions, and the culprits should be found. Turkey should take steps against pushback if [Greece] adopted it as a state policy. We hear that they are being beaten with iron bars and sent back without their clothes. This is a crime,” she added.

      Every year, hundreds of thousands of migrants flee civil conflict or economic hardship in their home countries in hope of reaching Europe. Edirne is a primary migration route. Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management data reveals that most of the migrants come from Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers increase in late summer and autumn before dropping in the winter months.

      Temperatures hover near minus zero degrees Celsius in Edirne and other provinces at the border, which also saw heavy rainfall last week. Migrants usually take boats on the Meriç River, while some try to swim across to the other side. Early yesterday, police stopped 17 Pakistani migrants who were walking on train tracks near the border.

      https://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2018/12/07/fourth-migrant-found-dead-near-border-greek-pushback-suspected/amp?__twitter_impression=true
      #mourir_aux_frontières #décès #morts

    • Greece accused of migrant ’pushbacks’ at Turkey border

      Hundreds of migrants including children and families have been illegally returned from Greece to Turkey despite Greek authorities being repeatedly warned about the practice, three non-governmental organizations said Wednesday.

      Migrants being forced back over the border, in violation of international law, has become the “new normality” at the border crossing with Turkey in Greece’s northeast Evros region, the three Greek organizations said.

      The testimonies of 39 people who attempted to cross the border to Europe, collected in detention centers near the border since the spring, were published in a report by the Greek Council for Refugees, ARSIS and HumanRights360.

      In their testimonies, the migrants describe being intercepted and detained by people wearing police or military uniforms, sometimes with a hood covering their face, who then forced them onto a boat to cross the Evros River back to Turkey.

      Some migrants described being physically abused or robbed by the individuals, who mostly spoke Greek.

      The report “constitutes evidence of the practice of pushbacks being used extensively and not decreasing, regardless of the silence and denial by the responsible public bodies and authorities,” the NGOs said.

      The “particularly wide-spread practice” leaves the “state exposed and posing a threat for the rule of law in the country,” they added.

      The Greek office of the U.N. refugee agency also said it had recorded a “significant number of testimonies on informal forced returns” through the Evros border.

      “On many occasions, we have addressed those concerns to the Greek authorities requesting the investigation of incidents,” the UNHCR office said.

      “The state’s response so far to these practices has not produced the results required for an effective access to asylum.”

      Greek authorities have denied involvement in the migrant returns and have announced investigations into potential militia action, without result so far.

      The flow of migrants across the Greek-Turkish land border has almost tripled this year, according to Greece’s migration ministry, with 14,000 people intercepted so far compared to 5,400 in 2017.


      http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2018/Dec-12/471620-greece-accused-of-migrant-pushbacks-at-turkey-border.ashx

    • Greece: Violent Pushbacks at Turkey Border

      Greek law enforcement officers at the land border with Turkey in the northeastern Evros region routinely summarily return asylum seekers and migrants, Human Rights Watch said today. The officers in some cases use violence and often confiscate and destroy the migrants’ belongings.

      “People who have not committed a crime are detained, beaten, and thrown out of Greece without any consideration for their rights or safety,” said Todor Gardos, Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Greek authorities should immediately investigate the repeated allegations of illegal pushbacks.”

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 asylum seekers and other migrants in Greece in May, and in October and November in Turkey. They are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, and include families traveling with children. They described 24 incidents of pushbacks across the Evros River from Greece to Turkey.

      Most incidents took place between April and November. All of those interviewed reported hostile or violent behavior by Greek police and unidentified forces wearing uniforms and masks without recognizable insignia. Twelve said police or these unidentified forces accompanying the police stripped them of their possessions, including their money and personal identification, which were often destroyed. Seven said police or unidentified forces took their clothes or shoes and forced them back to Turkey in their underwear, sometimes at night in freezing temperatures.

      Abuse included beatings with hands and batons, kicking, and, in one case, the use of what appeared to be a stun gun. In another case, a Moroccan man said a masked man dragged him by his hair, forced him to kneel on the ground, held a knife to his throat, and subjected him to a mock execution. Others pushed back include a pregnant 19-year-old woman from Afrin, Syria, and a woman from Afghanistan who said Greek authorities took away her two young children’s shoes.

      Increasing numbers of migrants, including asylum seekers, have attempted to cross the Evros River, which forms a natural border between Greece and Turkey, since April. By the end of September, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had registered 13,784 arrivals by land, a nearly fourfold increase over the same period last year.

      In early June, Turkey unilaterally suspended all returns under a bilateral readmission agreement, stopping coordinated returns over the land border. In a July letter to Human Rights Watch, Hellenic Police Director Georgios Kossioris acknowledged an “acute problem” related to new arrivals and migrants arrested in the region, causing the overcrowding in some facilities, and inhumane conditions in police stations and registration and identification centers Human Rights Watch had documented.

      Accounts gathered by Human Rights Watch are consistent with the findings of other nongovernmental groups, intergovernmental agencies, and media reports. UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, has raised similar concerns. In a June report, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture said it has received “several consistent and credible allegations of pushbacks by boat from Greece to Turkey at the Evros River border by masked Greek police and border guards or (para-)military commandos.” In November, the CoE human rights commissioner called on Greece to investigate allegations, in light of information pointing to “an established practice.”

      Human Rights Watch wrote to the head of border protection of the Hellenic Police on December 6, 2018, informing them of its findings. In his reply, Police Director Kossioris categorically denied that Hellenic Police carry out forced summary returns. He said all procedures for the detention and identification of migrants entering Greece were carried out in line with relevant legislation, and that they “thoroughly investigate” any incidents of misconduct or violation of migrants’ and asylum seekers’ rights. Greek authorities have consistently denied pushback practices, including a high-ranking Greek police official in a June meeting with Human Rights Watch. For a decade, Human Rights Watch has documented systematic pushbacks by Greek law enforcement officials at its land border with Turkey.

      Greek authorities should promptly investigate in a transparent, thorough, and impartial manner repeated allegations that Greek police and border guards are involved in collective and extrajudicial expulsions at the Evros region. Authorities should investigate allegations of violence and excessive use of force. Any officer engaged in such illegal acts, as well as their commanding officers, should be subject to disciplinary sanction and, as appropriate, criminal prosecution. Anyone seeking international protection should have the opportunity to apply for asylum, and returns should follow a procedure that provides access to effective remedies and safeguards against refoulement – return to a country where they are likely to face persecution, and ill-treatment.

      The European Commission, which provides financial support to the Greek government for migration control, including in the Evros region, should urge Greece to end all summary returns of asylum seekers to Turkey, press the authorities to investigate allegations of violence, and open legal proceedings against Greece for violating European Union laws.

      “Despite government denials, it appears that Greece is intentionally, and with complete impunity, closing the door on many people who seek to reach the European Union through the Evros border,” Gardos said. “Greece should cease forced summary returns immediately and treat everyone with dignity and respect for their basic rights.”

      For detailed accounts from asylum seekers and migrants, please see below. Please note that all names have been changed.

      Human Rights Watch interviewed 26 people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, including seven women, two of whom were pregnant at the time they were summarily returned to Turkey across the Evros River. In seven cases, families were pushed back, including children.

      In Greece, Human Rights Watch interviewed people who managed to re-enter Greek territory following a pushback, in the Fylakio pre-removal detention center and in the Fylakio reception and identification center, as well as in the Diavata camp for asylum seekers in Thessaloniki. In Turkey, those interviewed were in the Edirne removal center and in urban locations in Istanbul.

      All names of interviewees have been changed to protect their privacy and security. Interviews were carried out privately and confidentially, in the interviewees’ first language, or a language they spoke fluently, through interpreters. Interviewees shared their accounts voluntarily, and without remuneration, and have consented to Human Rights Watch collecting and publishing their accounts.

      Pushbacks in Evros

      The 24 incidents described demonstrate a pattern that points to an established and well-coordinated practice of pushbacks. Most of the incidents share three key features: initial capture by local police patrols, detention in police stations or informal locations close to the border with Turkey, and handover from identifiable law enforcement bodies to unidentifiable paramilitaries who would carry out the pushback to Turkey across the Evros River, at times violently. In nine cases, migrants said uniformed police physically mistreated them before or during the pushback.

      The accounts suggest close and consistent coordination between police with unidentified, often masked, men who may or may not be law enforcement officers. In a May interview with Human Rights Watch, Second Lieutenant Sofia Lazopoulou at the border police station of Neo Cheimonio said that police officers wearing dark blue uniforms were in charge of services at the police station and that those who wear military camouflage uniforms were patrolling officers, in charge of prevention and deterrence of irregular migrants crossing into Greece.

      Interviewees said that people who looked like police officers or soldiers, as well as some of the unidentified masked men, carried equipment such as handguns, handcuffs, radios, spray cans, and batons, while others carried tactical gear such as armored gloves, binoculars, and knives and military grade weapons, such as rifles.

      The repeated nature of the pushbacks and the fact that those officers who conduct them were clearly on official duty, indicates that commanding officers knew, or ought to have known, what was happening.

      Ferhat G., a Syrian Kurdish man in his forties, said two police officers detained him, his wife, and three children, ages 12, 15, and 19, at an abandoned train station on September 19. They were held in a large caged area in the backyard of a police station with dozens of other people for five hours. Ferhat could not say where the train station or police station were:

      We were all put in a van, 60 to 70 people. Commandos all in black, wearing face masks, drove us back to the river. We were very afraid… I saw other people there, mainly youths with just shorts, no other clothes. Our blood froze out of fear. When they opened the van, we started going out. “Stand in one line, one-by-one,” they said and hit someone. Ten by 10, they put us in a small boat, driven by a Greek soldier. I cried because of the humiliation.

      The modus operandi was largely replicated, with some variations, in the other cases Human Rights Watch documented.

      Capture

      Twenty-one of those interviewed said local police patrols detained them in towns and villages near the border or in open farmland. Two said that the police took them off a bus or a train shortly after its departure. Three said they could not identify the men who detained them and took them directly back to the border. People said they were then transported in police cars, pick-up trucks, white vans without windows or signs, or larger trucks painted in green or camouflage that appeared to be military trucks.

      Karim L., 25, from Morocco, said that police officers removed him from a train to Alexandropouli on November 8. Shortly after its scheduled departure from Orestiada, at 12:37 p.m., police officers began asking passengers who looked foreign to show their passports and took Karim and five or six others off the train. The police took him to a nearby police station and kept him there for two nights. Then four men wearing police uniforms and black masks took him to the border in a van. He said they subjected him to physical violence and a mock execution, then pushed him back to Turkey. He was not photographed, fingerprinted, or given any paper to read or sign, or otherwise informed of the reasons for his arrest. He said that other people, including families with children, were also detained in the station’s three cells.

      Mahsa N., an Afghan woman, said uniformed police officers removed her, her husband, their three children, ages 5, 9, and 11, and two unrelated Afghan men from a bus 15 minutes after it left Alexandropouli in mid-September, during their third attempt to enter Greece. They were pushed back to Turkey the same day, with the police who had detained them taking them all the way to the Evros River, where others were already being held so they could be returned on a boat.

      Dila E., a 25-year-old Syrian woman, described her experience shortly after crossing the Evros River in late April. She said she was with seven other people, including four children, when masked men she could not identify pushed them back to Turkey as they were walking in a small town near the border:

      They came with a car and took us. They put us in a white van. You couldn’t see anything from the inside. They took us directly to the river and made us cross the river with a rubber boat. They took everyone’s mobile phones, set of clothes, and even the money from some.

      Malik N., a 26-year-old Moroccan man, said uniformed police stopped him along with three other men on November 13 near a gas station in Didymoteicho, a town two kilometers from the border. He said that one of the policemen made a phone call, and a white van arrived 15 minutes later. Two men he could not identify took him and two of his group to a location that he described as barracks: “They put us in the car, which was very well made, dark inside, and without seats. There were no signs on it. … There was a terrible smell [in the barracks], and officials had their masks on… There were 30 people there.”

      Masked men took him to the border the next evening:

      After the masked people came, they started to shout at us, and hit us one by one with batons at the door. There were around eight people outside the barracks, each with a thick plastic baton. They would hit you as you walked to the car. They would shout “Fuck Islam.” They put 30 of us in the van. [There were] no chairs. I felt like I was suffocating, there was no air. When we arrived at the river, they ordered people to strip to shorts only. They took my phones, my money, €1,500, and my glasses, and broke them.

      Sardar T., 18, from Afghanistan, said that uniformed police caught him and the group of people he was traveling with at the Didymoteicho bus station on April 23. He said the police came with a white van but later brought a big car, similar to a military truck with green camouflage. Human Rights Watch researchers saw a vehicle matching Sardar’s description parked in the yard of the border police station of Neo Cheimonio, as well as numerous white vans, without police signs. Sardar said that the officers who pushed them back to Turkey were wearing police uniforms and that masks concealed their faces except for their eyes.

      Detention

      Thirteen of those interviewed reported that they were detained in formal and informal locations close to the border, for periods ranging from a few hours to five days. Five said they were taken to a police station, while eight described buildings on the outskirts of nearby villages and towns, or on farmland that they said were used as drop-off points for detained migrants. None of the interviewees, even those held at police stations, were duly identified and registered, and their detention appears to have been arbitrary and incommunicado.

      A few dozen to one hundred people were detained at a time, without food, water, and sanitation, and then taken to the Evros River and returned to Turkey. Interviewees described the rooms in the unidentified buildings as “prison-like” and “like a storage room,” with a few mattresses and a single, filthy toilet. They said women and families with children were either held together with unrelated men, or sometimes in adjacent rooms.

      Mahsa, the Afghan woman who was summarily returned to Turkey three times, said she and her family were kept for five days, along with unrelated men who were also detained, in a dark room with no beds or heat before the second pushback, in late August. They were not given any food. Their belongings, including winter coats for her young children, and a cherished backpack and doll, were never returned. Up to 10 guards, wearing belts with what appeared to be handguns, batons, and pepper spray, would check on people and lock the door but not provide any information. She saw guards beating men staying in the same room: “They had a blue uniform with writing on it in Greek on the back, with big letters. They called us dirt.”

      Azadeh B., a 22-year-old Afghan woman traveling with her husband and two children, ages 2 and 4, said they were pushed back twice from Greece – and had spent five days in detention before being returned the second time, in early October. She said they were taken to a room in a structure located in the middle of farmland:

      We could not see or hear anything. We were not asked to sign anything or told anything. The guards closed the door and locked it. When families asked for water, they filled dirty bottles and threw them inside the room through the door. They took everything from us, even the Quran. We asked them to give back our kids’ shoes, but they didn’t. They do this because they don’t want us to come back. If it’s something of value, they keep it, something they don’t like, they put it in the bin.

      She said only the children were given some biscuits while detained in a room that was about 40 square meters and shared by about 80 people whom she believed were also all migrants.

      Hassan I., a Tunisian man in his thirties, said that before being violently pushed back along with four friends in early August, they spent a day in detention. He said the location resembled a military base because they saw military vehicles, including trucks and tanks, parked near the room in which they were held. It was a 15-minute drive from the town of Orestiada, where they had been stopped and picked up in the morning by two police officers in blue uniforms in a civilian car.

      The policemen drove them to the location, where guards violently pushed them against a wall, searched them, and hit them. “First, they asked for phones, then for money,” Hassan said. They were shouting ‘malaka’ [a Greek insult meaning ‘asshole’]. I was shocked. I felt humiliated. When we tried to ask for anything, like our sim cards, memory cards, they hit us immediately.” Hassan and his friends were put in a room that looked like a storage room. In an adjacent room, they could hear the voices of families with children. Hassan estimated that by 9 p.m., when they were taken to the border in trucks, about 80 men were in his room of about 24 square meters, in which there were only a few chairs, a toilet, and a water tap.

      Zara Z., 19 and four-months pregnant, from Afrin, Syria, said that in mid-May, men wearing camouflage uniforms stopped her and her husband and detained them overnight in a room without bedding or furniture, together with other migrant families, and without any food or water. The next day they were transferred in a van to the Evros River, put on a boat, and pushed back to Turkey.

      Pushbacks across the Evros River

      All those interviewed said they were transported to the border with Turkey in groups of 60 to 80, in military trucks or unmarked vans. In all but three cases, the agents wore face masks, black pants, or camouflage, making it impossible to recognize or identify them. In the three other cases, interviewees said police in regular blue and camouflage uniforms transported them to the river. Ten out of 26 interviewees said they were physically abused or witnessed others being ill-treated during the pushback operation.

      Karim, a 25-year-old Moroccan man, said Greek police handed him over to masked men wearing police uniforms after they caught him in Greece on November 10 and that he was violently pushed back to Turkey. After ordering him to take off his clothes and shoes, two of the masked officers kicked him to the ground and hit him with a baton, then one of them subjected him to a mock execution. They dragged him by his hair and forced him to kneel on the ground, while the masked officer held a knife to his throat and said in broken English, “Whoever returns to Greece, they will die.” Karim said he could not sleep at night and was experiencing recurrent nightmares.

      Hassan, the Tunisian who was pushed back with his four friends on August 10 or 11, said that masked men wearing black clothes ill-treated them after taking them to the border in a truck. One of the men used a stun gun on Hassan’s lower back, causing burns that were still visible over two months later. He provided video footage of the group’s injuries, which he said was recorded the day after the incident and was first posted on social media on August 12, showing several bruises he said resulted from blows to their upper and lower backs and limbs. “Next time I will see you,” one of the masked men told him in English, “I will kill you.” At the time of the interview, Hassan had been sleeping in parks in Istanbul, after all his belongings were confiscated in Greece.

      Amir B., a Tunisian man in his twenties, was pushed back to Turkey at the end of September after entering Greece and hiding for six days. He said he was returned from near Alexandropouli to the border in one of two military trucks, which together took around 80 people to the border, including about 30 women and a few children. Amir said masked men pushed people around as they got off the trucks, and then pushed them toward the river, ordering them to remain silent. The agents then split the group into smaller groups of 10 and ordered them to take off their shoes. Women had to give up their coats, while some men had to strip to underwear. Amir’s jeans, where he also kept his money, were set on fire. When a black pick-up truck arrived with a small boat, the guards checked the other side of the river with binoculars, and then used the small boat to take the groups of 10 in turn across the water.

      https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/18/greece-violent-pushbacks-turkey-border

      #vidéo:
      Greek Authorities Beat, Push Back Migrants into Turkey
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2olpuc_tqA


  • The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs in Eight U.S. Cities
    https://theintercept.com/2018/06/25/att-internet-nsa-spy-hubs

    The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T not only because it “has access to information that transits the nation,” but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T’s massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies.

    It is an efficient point to conduct internet surveillance, Klein said, “because the peering links, by the nature of the connections, are liable to carry everybody’s traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year.”

    Christopher Augustine, a spokesperson for the NSA, said in a statement that the agency could “neither confirm nor deny its role in alleged classified intelligence activities.” Augustine declined to answer questions about the AT&T facilities, but said that the NSA “conducts its foreign signals intelligence mission under the legal authorities established by Congress and is bound by both policy and law to protect U.S. persons’ privacy and civil liberties.”

    Jim Greer, an AT&T spokesperson, said that AT&T was “required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement entities by complying with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests, and other legal requirements.” He added that the company provides “voluntary assistance to law enforcement when a person’s life is in danger and in other immediate, emergency situations. In all cases, we ensure that requests for assistance are valid and that we act in compliance with the law.”

    Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent Communications, told The Intercept that he had no knowledge of the surveillance at the eight AT&T buildings, but said he believed “the core premise that the NSA or some other agency would like to look at traffic … at an AT&T facility.” He said he suspected that the surveillance is likely carried out on “a limited basis,” due to technical and cost constraints. If the NSA were trying to “ubiquitously monitor” data passing across AT&T’s networks, Schaeffer added, he would be “extremely concerned.”

    An estimated 99 percent of the world’s intercontinental internet traffic is transported through hundreds of giant fiber optic cables hidden beneath the world’s oceans. A large portion of the data and communications that pass across the cables is routed at one point through the U.S., partly because of the country’s location – situated between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia – and partly because of the pre-eminence of American internet companies, which provide services to people globally.

    The NSA calls this predicament “home field advantage” – a kind of geographic good fortune. “A target’s phone call, email, or chat will take the cheapest path, not the physically most direct path,” one agency document explains. “Your target’s communications could easily be flowing into and through the U.S.”

    Once the internet traffic arrives on U.S. soil, it is processed by American companies. And that is why, for the NSA, AT&T is so indispensable. The company claims it has one of the world’s most powerful networks, the largest of its kind in the U.S. AT&T routinely handles masses of emails, phone calls, and internet chats. As of March 2018, some 197 petabytes of data – the equivalent of more than 49 trillion pages of text, or 60 billion average-sized mp3 files – traveled across its networks every business day.

    The NSA documents, which come from the trove provided to The Intercept by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, describe AT&T as having been “aggressively involved” in aiding the agency’s surveillance programs. One example of this appears to have taken place at the eight facilities under a classified initiative called SAGUARO.

    In October 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves the surveillance operations carried out under Section 702 of FISA, found that there were “technological limitations” with the agency’s internet eavesdropping equipment. It was “generally incapable of distinguishing” between some kinds of data, the court stated. As a consequence, Judge John D. Bates ruled, the NSA had been intercepting the communications of “non-target United States persons and persons in the United States,” violating Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling, which was declassified in August 2013, concluded that the agency had acquired some 13 million “internet transactions” during one six-month period, and had unlawfully gathered “tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications” each year.

    The root of the issue was that the NSA’s technology was not only targeting communications sent to and from specific surveillance targets. Instead, the agency was sweeping up people’s emails if they had merely mentioned particular information about surveillance targets.

    A top-secret NSA memo about the court’s ruling, which has not been disclosed before, explained that the agency was collecting people’s messages en masse if a single one were found to contain a “selector” – like an email address or phone number – that featured on a target list.

    Information provided by a second former AT&T employee adds to the evidence linking the Atlanta building to NSA surveillance. Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, alleged in 2006 that the company had allowed the NSA to install surveillance equipment in some of its network hubs. An AT&T facility in Atlanta was one of the spy sites, according to documents Klein presented in a court case over the alleged spying. The Atlanta facility was equipped with “splitter” equipment, which was used to make copies of internet traffic as AT&T’s networks processed it. The copied data would then be diverted to “SG3” equipment – a reference to “Study Group 3” – which was a code name AT&T used for activities related to NSA surveillance, according to evidence in the Klein case.

    #Surveillance #USA #NSA #AT&T


  • Amazon employees protest sale of facial recognition tech to law enforcement
    http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/393583-amazon-employees-protest-sale-of-facial-recognition-tech-to-law

    A group of Amazon employees are pressuring company leadership to stop selling its facial recognition software to law enforcement and to stop providing services to companies who work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “We refuse to build the platform that powers ICE, and we refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights. As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used,” a group of Amazon workers wrote in a letter (...)

    #ICE #Palantir #Amazon #algorithme #Rekognition #biométrie #facial #migration #surveillance


  • Indigenous Women Have Been Disappearing for Generations. Politicians Are Finally Starting to Notice.

    https://theintercept.com/2018/05/31/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women

    Aux États-Unis comme au Canada

    Women on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington state didn’t have any particular term for the way the violent deaths and sudden disappearances of their sisters, mothers, friends, and neighbors had become woven into everyday life.

    “I didn’t know, like many, that there was a title, that there was a word for it,” said Roxanne White, who is Yakama and Nez Perce and grew up on the reservation. White has become a leader in the movement to address the disproportionate rates of homicide and missing persons cases among American Indian women, but the first time she heard the term “missing and murdered Indigenous women” was less than two years ago, at a Dakota Access pipeline resistance camp at Standing Rock. There, she met women who had traveled from Canada to speak about disappearances in First Nations to the north, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration launched a historic national inquiry into the issue in 2016.

    #nations_premières #états-unis #canada #féminicide

    • #NotInvisible: Why are Native American women vanishing?

      The searchers rummage through the abandoned trailer, flipping over a battered couch, unfurling a stained sheet, looking for clues. It’s blistering hot and a grizzly bear lurking in the brush unleashes a menacing growl. But they can’t stop.

      Not when a loved one is still missing.

      The group moves outside into knee-deep weeds, checking out a rusted garbage can, an old washing machine — and a surprise: bones.

      Ashley HeavyRunner Loring, a 20-year-old member of the Blackfeet Nation, was last heard from around June 8, 2017. Since then her older sister, Kimberly, has been looking for her.

      She has logged about 40 searches, with family from afar sometimes using Google Earth to guide her around closed roads. She’s hiked in mountains, shouting her sister’s name. She’s trekked through fields, gingerly stepping around snakes. She’s trudged through snow, rain and mud, but she can’t cover the entire 1.5 million-acre reservation, an expanse larger than Delaware.

      “I’m the older sister. I need to do this,” says 24-year-old Kimberly, swatting away bugs, her hair matted from the heat. “I don’t want to search until I’m 80. But if I have to, I will.”

      Ashley’s disappearance is one small chapter in the unsettling story of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. No one knows precisely how many there are because some cases go unreported, others aren’t documented thoroughly and there isn’t a specific government database tracking these cases. But one U.S. senator with victims in her home state calls this an epidemic, a long-standing problem linked to inadequate resources, outright indifference and a confusing jurisdictional maze.

      Now, in the era of #MeToo, this issue is gaining political traction as an expanding activist movement focuses on Native women — a population known to experience some of the nation’s highest rates of murder, sexual violence and domestic abuse.

      “Just the fact we’re making policymakers acknowledge this is an issue that requires government response, that’s progress in itself,” says Annita Lucchesi, a cartographer and descendant of the Cheyenne who is building a database of missing and murdered indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada — a list of some 2,700 names so far.

      As her endless hunt goes on, Ashley’s sister is joined on this day by a cousin, Lissa, and four others, including a family friend armed with a rifle and pistols. They scour the trailer where two “no trespassing” signs are posted and a broken telescope looks out the kitchen window. One of Ashley’s cousins lived here, and there are reports it’s among the last places she was seen.

      “We’re following every rumor there is, even if it sounds ridiculous,” Lissa Loring says.

      This search is motivated, in part, by the family’s disappointment with the reservation police force — a common sentiment for many relatives of missing Native Americans.

      Outside, the group stumbles upon something intriguing: the bones, one small and straight, the other larger and shaped like a saddle. It’s enough to alert police, who respond in five squad cars, rumbling across the ragged field, kicking up clouds of dust. After studying the bones, one officer breaks the news: They’re much too large for a human; they could belong to a deer.

      There will be no breakthrough today. Tomorrow the searchers head to the mountains.

      _

      For many in Native American communities across the nation, the problem of missing and murdered women is deeply personal.

      “I can’t think of a single person that I know ... who doesn’t have some sort of experience,” says Ivan MacDonald, a member of the Blackfeet Nation and a filmmaker. “These women aren’t just statistics. These are grandma, these are mom. This is an aunt, this is a daughter. This is someone who was loved ... and didn’t get the justice that they so desperately needed.”

      MacDonald and his sister, Ivy, recently produced a documentary on Native American women in Montana who vanished or were killed. One story hits particularly close to home. Their 7-year-old cousin, Monica, disappeared from a reservation school in 1979. Her body was found frozen on a mountain 20 miles away, and no one has ever been arrested.

      There are many similar mysteries that follow a pattern: A woman or girl goes missing, there’s a community outcry, a search is launched, a reward may be offered. There may be a quick resolution. But often, there’s frustration with tribal police and federal authorities, and a feeling many cases aren’t handled urgently or thoroughly.

      So why does this happen? MacDonald offers his own harsh assessment.

      “It boils down to racism,” he argues. “You could sort of tie it into poverty or drug use or some of those factors ... (but) the federal government doesn’t really give a crap at the end of the day.”

      Tribal police and investigators from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs serve as law enforcement on reservations, which are sovereign nations. But the FBI investigates certain offenses and, if there’s ample evidence, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes major felonies such as murder, kidnapping and rape if they happen on tribal lands.

      Former North Dakota federal prosecutor Tim Purdon calls it a “jurisdictional thicket” of overlapping authority and different laws depending on the crime, where it occurred (on a reservation or not) and whether a tribal member is the victim or perpetrator. Missing person cases on reservations can be especially tricky. Some people run away, but if a crime is suspected, it’s difficult to know how to get help.

      “Where do I go to file a missing person’s report?” Purdon asks. “Do I go to the tribal police? ... In some places they’re underfunded and undertrained. The Bureau of Indian Affairs? The FBI? They might want to help, but a missing person case without more is not a crime, so they may not be able to open an investigation. ... Do I go to one of the county sheriffs? ... If that sounds like a horribly complicated mishmash of law enforcement jurisdictions that would tremendously complicate how I would try to find help, it’s because that’s what it is.”

      Sarah Deer, a University of Kansas professor, author of a book on sexual violence in Indian Country and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, offers another explanation for the missing and murdered: Native women, she says, have long been considered invisible and disposable in society, and those vulnerabilities attract predators.

      “It’s made us more of a target, particularly for the women who have addiction issues, PTSD and other kinds of maladies,” she says. “You have a very marginalized group, and the legal system doesn’t seem to take proactive attempts to protect Native women in some cases.”

      Those attitudes permeate reservations where tribal police are frequently stretched thin and lack training and families complain officers don’t take reports of missing women seriously, delaying searches in the first critical hours.

      “They almost shame the people that are reporting, (and say), ’Well, she’s out drinking. Well, she probably took up with some man,’” says Carmen O’Leary, director of the Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains. “A lot of times families internalize that kind of shame, (thinking) that it’s her fault somehow.”

      Matthew Lone Bear spent nine months looking for his older sister, Olivia — using drones and four-wheelers, fending off snakes and crisscrossing nearly a million acres, often on foot. The 32-year-old mother of five had last been seen driving a Chevy Silverado on Oct. 25, 2017, in downtown New Town, on the oil-rich terrain of North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation.

      On July 31, volunteers using sonar found the truck with Olivia inside submerged in a lake less than a mile from her home. It’s a body of water that had been searched before, her brother says, but “obviously not as thoroughly, or they would have found it a long time ago.”

      Lone Bear says authorities were slow in launching their search — it took days to get underway — and didn’t get boats in the water until December, despite his frequent pleas. He’s working to develop a protocol for missing person cases for North Dakota’s tribes “that gets the red tape and bureaucracy out of the way,” he says.

      The FBI is investigating Olivia’s death. “She’s home,” her brother adds, “but how did she get there? We don’t have any of those answers.”

      Other families have been waiting for decades.

      Carolyn DeFord’s mother, Leona LeClair Kinsey, a member of the Puyallup Tribe, vanished nearly 20 years ago in La Grande, Oregon. “There was no search party. There was no, ’Let’s tear her house apart and find a clue,’” DeFord says. “I just felt hopeless and helpless.” She ended up creating her own missing person’s poster.

      “There’s no way to process the kind of loss that doesn’t stop,” says DeFord, who lives outside Tacoma, Washington. “Somebody asked me awhile back, ’What would you do if you found her? What would that mean?’... It would mean she can come home. She’s a human being who deserves to be honored and have her children and her grandchildren get to remember her and celebrate her life.”

      It’s another Native American woman whose name is attached to a federal bill aimed at addressing this issue. Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, 22, was murdered in 2017 while eight months pregnant. Her body was found in a river, wrapped in plastic and duct tape. A neighbor in Fargo, North Dakota, cut her baby girl from her womb. The child survived and lives with her father. The neighbor, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life without parole; her boyfriend’s trial is set to start in September.

      In a speech on the Senate floor last fall, North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp told the stories of four other Native American women from her state whose deaths were unsolved. Displaying a giant board featuring their photos, she decried disproportionate incidences of violence that go “unnoticed, unreported or underreported.”

      Her bill, “Savanna’s Act,” aims to improve tribal access to federal crime information databases. It would also require the Department of Justice to develop a protocol to respond to cases of missing and murdered Native Americans and the federal government to provide an annual report on the numbers.

      At the end of 2017, Native Americans and Alaska Natives made up 1.8 percent of ongoing missing cases in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, even though they represent 0.8 percent of the U.S. population. These cases include those lingering and open from year to year, but experts say the figure is low, given that many tribes don’t have access to the database. Native women accounted for more than 0.7 percent of the missing cases — 633 in all — though they represent about 0.4 percent of the U.S. population.

      “Violence against Native American women has not been prosecuted,” Heitkamp said in an interview. “We have not really seen the urgency in closing cold cases. We haven’t seen the urgency when someone goes missing. ... We don’t have the clear lines of authority that need to be established to prevent these tragedies.”

      In August, Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, asked the leaders of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to hold a hearing to address the problem.

      Lawmakers in a handful of states also are responding. In Montana, a legislative tribal relations committee has proposals for five bills to deal with missing persons. In July 2017, 22 of 72 missing girls or women — or about 30 percent — were Native American, according to Montana’s Department of Justice. But Native females comprise only 3.3 percent of the state’s population.

      It’s one of many statistics that reveal a grim reality.

      On some reservations, Native American women are murdered at a rate more than 10 times the national average and more than half of Alaska Native and Native women have experienced sexual violence at some point, according to the U.S. Justice Department. A 2016 study found more than 80 percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetimes.

      Yet another federal report on violence against women included some startling anecdotes from tribal leaders. Sadie Young Bird, who heads victim services for the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, described how in 1½ years, her program had dealt with five cases of murdered or missing women, resulting in 18 children losing their mothers; two cases were due to intimate partner violence.

      “Our people go missing at an alarming rate, and we would not hear about many of these cases without Facebook,” she said in the report.

      Canada has been wrestling with this issue for decades and recently extended a government inquiry that began in 2016 into missing and murdered indigenous women. A report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police concluded that from 1980 to 2012 there were 1,181 indigenous women murdered or whose missing person cases were unresolved. Lucchesi, the researcher, says she found an additional 400 to 500 cases in her database work.

      Despite some high-profile cases in the U.S., many more get scant attention, Lucchesi adds.

      “Ashley has been the face of this movement,” she says. “But this movement started before Ashley was born. For every Ashley, there are 200 more.”

      Browning is the heart of the Blackfeet Nation, a distinctly Western town with calf-roping competitions, the occasional horseback rider ambling down the street — and a hardscrabble reality. Nearly 40 percent of the residents live in poverty. The down-and-out loiter on corners. Shuttered homes with “Meth Unit” scrawled on wooden boards convey the damage caused by drugs.

      With just about 1,000 residents, many folks are related and secrets have a way of spilling out.

      “There’s always somebody talking,” says Ashley’s cousin, Lissa, “and it seems like to us since she disappeared, everybody got quiet. I don’t know if they’re scared, but so are we. That’s why we need people to speak up.”

      Missing posters of Ashley are displayed in grocery stores and the occasional sandwich shop. They show a fresh-faced, grinning woman, flashing the peace sign. In one, she gazes into the camera, her long hair blowing in the wind.

      One of nine children, including half-siblings, Ashley had lived with her grandmother outside town. Kimberly remembers her sister as funny and feisty, the keeper of the family photo albums who always carried a camera. She learned to ride a horse before a bike and liked to whip up breakfasts of biscuits and gravy that could feed an army.

      She was interested in environmental science and was completing her studies at Blackfeet Community College, with plans to attend the University of Montana.

      Kimberly says Ashley contacted her asking for money. Days later, she was gone.

      At first, her relatives say, tribal police suggested Ashley was old enough to take off on her own. The Bureau of Indian Affairs investigated, teaming up with reservation police, and interviewed 55 people and conducted 38 searches. There are persons of interest, spokeswoman Nedra Darling says, but she wouldn’t elaborate. A $10,000 reward is being offered.

      The FBI took over the case in January after a lead steered investigators off the reservation and into another state. The agency declined comment.

      Ashley’s disappearance is just the latest trauma for the Blackfeet Nation.

      Theda New Breast, a founder of the Native Wellness Institute, has worked with Lucchesi to compile a list of missing and murdered women in the Blackfoot Confederacy — four tribes in the U.S. and Canada. Long-forgotten names are added as families break generations of silence. A few months ago, a woman revealed her grandmother had been killed in the 1950s by her husband and left in a shallow grave.

      “Everybody knew about it, but nobody talked about it,” New Breast says, and others keep coming forward — perhaps, in part, because of the #MeToo movement. “Every time I bring out the list, more women tell their secret. I think that they find their voice.”

      Though these crimes have shaken the community, “there is a tendency to be desensitized to violence,” says MacDonald, the filmmaker. “I wouldn’t call it avoidance. But if we would feel the full emotions, there would be people crying in the streets.”

      His aunt, Mabel Wells, would be among them.

      Nearly 40 years have passed since that December day when her daughter, Monica, vanished. Wells remembers every terrible moment: The police handing her Monica’s boot after it was found by a hunter and the silent scream in her head: “It’s hers! It’s hers!” Her brother describing the little girl’s coat flapping in the wind after her daughter’s body was found frozen on a mountain. The pastor’s large hands that held hers as he solemnly declared: “Monica’s with the Lord.”

      Monica’s father, Kenny Still Smoking, recalls that a medicine man told him his daughter’s abductor was a man who favored Western-style clothes and lived in a red house in a nearby town, but there was no practical way to pursue that suggestion.

      He recently visited Monica’s grave, kneeling next to a white cross peeking out from tall grass, studying his daughter’s smiling photo, cracked with age. He gently placed his palm on her name etched into a headstone. “I let her know that I’m still kicking,” he says.

      Wells visits the gravesite, too — every June 2, Monica’s birthday. She still hopes to see the perpetrator caught. “I want to sit with them and say, ‘Why? Why did you choose my daughter?’”

      Even now, she can’t help but think of Monica alone on that mountain. “I wonder if she was hollering for me, saying, ‘Mom, help!’”

      _

      Ash-lee! Ash-lee!! Ash-lee! Ash-lee!!

      Some 20 miles northwest of Browning, the searchers have navigated a rugged road lined with barren trees scorched from an old forest fire. They have a panoramic view of majestic snowcapped mountains. A woman’s stained sweater was found here months ago, making the location worthy of another search. It’s not known whether the garment may be Ashley’s.

      First Kimberly, then Lissa Loring, call Ashley’s name — in different directions. The repetition four times by each woman is a ritual designed to beckon someone’s spirit.

      Lissa says Ashley’s disappearance constantly weighs on her. “All that plays in my head is where do we look? Who’s going to tell us the next lead?”

      That weekend at the annual North American Indian Days in Browning, the family marched in a parade with a red banner honoring missing and murdered indigenous women. They wore T-shirts with an image of Ashley and the words: “We will never give up.”

      Then Ashley’s grandmother and others took to a small arena for what’s known as a blanket dance, to raise money for the search. As drums throbbed, they grasped the edges of a blue blanket. Friends stepped forward, dropping in cash, some tearfully embracing Ashley’s relatives.

      The past few days reminded Kimberly of a promise she’d made to Ashley when their mother was wrestling with substance abuse problems and the girls were briefly in a foster home. Kimberly was 8 then; Ashley was just 5.

      “’We have to stick together,’” she’d told her little sister.

      “I told her I would never leave her. And if she was going to go anywhere, I would find her.”


      https://apnews.com/cb6efc4ec93e4e92900ec99ccbcb7e05

    • Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview

      Executive summary

      In late 2013, the Commissioner of the RCMP initiated an RCMP-led study of reported incidents of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across all police jurisdictions in Canada.

      This report summarizes that effort and will guide Canadian Police operational decision-making on a solid foundation. It will mean more targeted crime prevention, better community engagement and enhanced accountability for criminal investigations. It will also assist operational planning from the detachment to national level. In sum, it reveals the following:

      Police-recorded incidents of Aboriginal female homicides and unresolved missing Aboriginal females in this review total 1,181 – 164 missing and 1,017 homicide victims.
      There are 225 unsolved cases of either missing or murdered Aboriginal females: 105 missing for more than 30 days as of November 4, 2013, whose cause of disappearance was categorized at the time as “unknown” or “foul play suspected” and 120 unsolved homicides between 1980 and 2012.
      The total indicates that Aboriginal women are over-represented among Canada’s murdered and missing women.
      There are similarities across all female homicides. Most homicides were committed by men and most of the perpetrators knew their victims — whether as an acquaintance or a spouse.
      The majority of all female homicides are solved (close to 90%) and there is little difference in solve rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal victims.

      This report concludes that the total number of murdered and missing Aboriginal females exceeds previous public estimates. This total significantly contributes to the RCMP’s understanding of this challenge, but it represents only a first step.

      It is the RCMP’s intent to work with the originating agencies responsible for the data herein to release as much of it as possible to stakeholders. Already, the data on missing Aboriginal women has been shared with the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR), which will be liaising with policing partners to publish additional cases on the Canada’s Missing website. Ultimately, the goal is to make information more widely available after appropriate vetting. While this matter is without question a policing concern, it is also a much broader societal challenge.

      The collation of this data was completed by the RCMP and the assessments and conclusions herein are those of the RCMP alone. The report would not have been possible without the support and contribution of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics at Statistics Canada.

      As with any effort of such magnitude, this report needs to be caveated with a certain amount of error and imprecision. This is for a number of reasons: the period of time over which data was collected was extensive; collection by investigators means data is susceptible to human error and interpretation; inconsistency of collection of variables over the review period and across multiple data sources; and, finally, definitional challenges.

      The numbers that follow are the best available data to which the RCMP had access to at the time the information was collected. They will change as police understanding of cases evolve, but as it stands, this is the most comprehensive data that has ever been assembled by the Canadian policing community on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

      http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/missing-and-murdered-aboriginal-women-national-operational-overview
      #rapport

    • Ribbons of shame: Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women

      In Canada, Jessie Kolvin uncovers a shameful record of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Examining the country’s ingrained racism, she questions whether Justin Trudeau’s government has used the issue for political gain.
      In 2017, Canada celebrated its 150th birthday. The country was ablaze with pride: mountain and prairie, metropolis and suburb, were swathed in Canadian flags bearing that distinctive red maple leaf.

      My eye was accustomed to the omnipresent crimson, so when I crossed a bridge in Toronto and saw dozens of red ribbons tied to the struts, I assumed they were another symbol of national honour and celebration.

      Positive energy imbued even the graffiti at the end of the bridge, which declared that, “Tout est possible”. I reflected that perhaps it really was possible to have a successful democracy that was progressive and inclusive and kind: Canada was living proof.

      Then my friend spoke briefly, gravely: “These are a memorial to the missing and murdered Indigenous* women.”

      In a moment, my understanding of Canada was revolutionised. I was compelled to learn about the Indigenous women and girls – believed to number around 4,000, although the number continues to rise – whose lives have been violently taken.

      No longer did the red of the ribbons represent Canadian pride; suddenly it signified Canadian shame, and Indigenous anger and blood.

      At home, I Googled: “missing and murdered Indigenous women”. It returned 416,000 results all peppered with the shorthand “MMIW”, or “MMIWG” to include girls. The existence of the acronym suggested that this was not some limited or niche concern.

      It was widespread and, now at least, firmly in the cultural and political consciousness.

      The description records that her sister, Jane, has “repeatedly called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.”

      The oldest is 83, the youngest nine months. A random click yields the story of Angela Williams, a mother of three girls, who went missing in 2001 and was found dumped in a ditch beside a rural road in British Columbia.

      Another offers Tanya Jane Nepinak, who in 2011 didn’t return home after going to buy a pizza a few blocks away. A man has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to her disappearance, but her body has never been found.

      The description records that her sister, Jane, has “repeatedly called for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.”

      According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Native American women constitute just 4.3% of the Canadian population but 16% of homicide victims. It isn’t a mystery as to why.

      Indigenous peoples are less likely than white Canadians to complete their education, more likely to be jobless, more likely to live in insecure housing, and their health – both physical and mental – is worse.

      Alcoholism and drug abuse abound, and Indigenous women are more likely to work in the sex trade. These environments breed vulnerability and violence, and violence tends to be perpetrated against women.

      Amnesty International has stated that Indigenous women in particular tend to be targeted because the “police in Canada have often failed to provide Indigenous women with an adequate standard of protection”.

      When police do intervene in Indigenous communities, they are often at best ineffectual and at worst abusive. Indigenous women are not, it appears, guaranteed their “right to life, liberty and security of the person” enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

      It didn’t take me long to realise that many of these problems – Indigenous women’s vulnerability, the violence perpetrated against them, the failure to achieve posthumous justice – can be partly blamed on the persistence of racism.

      Successive governments have failed to implement substantial change. Then Prime Minister Stephen Harper merely voiced what had previously been tacit when he said in 2014 that the call for an inquiry “isn’t really high on our radar”.

      If this is believable of Harper, it is much less so of his successor Justin Trudeau. With his fresh face and progressive policies, I had heralded his arrival. Many Native Americans shared my optimism.

      For Trudeau certainly talked the talk: just after achieving office, he told the Assembly of First Nations that: “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations peoples, one that understands that the constitutionally guaranteed rights of First Nations in Canada are not an inconvenience but rather a sacred obligation.”

      Trudeau committed to setting up a national public inquiry which would find the truth about why so many Indigenous women go missing and are murdered, and which would honour them.

      https://lacuna.org.uk/justice/ribbons-of-shame-canadas-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women
      #disparitions #racisme #xénophobie


  • Global Forest Watch offers mapping and data visualization fellowships
    https://news.mongabay.com/wildtech/2018/05/global-forest-watch-offering-mapping-and-data-visualization-fellowshi

    Through the fellowship program, the GFW team aims to bring its online forest change monitoring technology to scientists, journalists, conservationists, law enforcement officers, lawyers, and indigenous leaders willing to train and share their knowledge with others.

    The fellowship consists of a five-month series of online training sessions and peer-to-peer interactions from July through December 2018 and provides a US $6,000 stipend. It aims to help participants build their technical skills, network with both their peers and GFW staff, and begin implementing a data-focused project.

    #cartographie #déforestation #forêt


  • About $1.2 billion in cryptocurrency stolen since 2017: cybercrime group | Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crypto-currency-crime/about-1-2-billion-in-cryptocurrency-stolen-since-2017-cybercrime-group-idUS

    #WHOIS data is a fundamental resource for investigators and law enforcement officials who work to prevent thefts, Jevans said.

    He noted that WHOIS data is crucial in performing investigations that allow for the recovery of stolen funds, identifying the persons involved and providing vital information for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute criminals.

    [#GDPR] “So what we’re going to see is that not only the European market goes dark for all of us; so all the bad guys will flow to Europe because you can actually access the world from Europe and there’s no way you can get the data anymore,” Jevans said.