Freedom of expression redux

 You’ll remember the man who (temporarily) silenced Tim Ireland (for the full story see Tim’s posts here which prompted a general campaign of support).

His campaign involved the use of UK verbal injury laws to attack various newspapers, and bloggers – and through attacking the service providers sought the shutting down of various blogs.

The tactic is familiar.  And increasingly frequent.  Why, for example, has The Guardian and Observer removed six articles from its website relating to Nadmi Auchi?  Mr Auchi is an Iraqi businessman and a convicted fraudster in France (appealing against sentence and apparently off to Strasbourg questioning the fairness of his trial according to his UK media lawyers).  The background of that case is here and here, where it was alleged that UK government ministers had initially refused to deport Mr Auchi despite requests from the French.  

The Times reported that Mr Auchi loaned a large sum to Tony Rezko, who earlier this month was found guilty of federal corruption charges.  Why is Mr Rezko of interest to the media?  Because Rezko is (or was if the LA Times is to be believed) close to one Barack Obama, having acted as Obama’s fundraiser – and while there is no connection between the Rezko charges and Obama questions have been raised about their relationship.  For example, the Chicago Tribune queried a land deal involving Rezko and Obama where he “advised Obama on the purchase of a new Chicago home and, in his wife’s name, purchased a vacant lot next door to the new Obama home when the seller wanted to dispose of both properties at the same time. Rezko then sold a slice of the property to Obama.”  It has been suggested that the double deal saved Obama 300,000 dollars, although this deduction was part of normal negotiations (and the propriety of the transaction has been defended). For those interested you can get an attractive picture of the lot here.   But one of the questions asked has been where did Mrs Rezko get the money for the transactions given that the deposit was 125,000 dollars, the mortgage for 500,000 dollars, and her salary (as declared in court 37,000 dollars)?  And the implication of the Times stories is that the money may have come from her husband, and given the proximity of the loan from Auchi to Rezko’s general patrimony that the money may have come through him.  Auchi is a controversial figure and while Rezko claims to have been very friendly with him, Auchi’s lawyers deny this.  The timeline of Auchi’s relationship with Obama is explored by The Times here.

And while Mr Auchi and Mr Obama have denied meeting each other this story has been challenged in the original Times report and by ABC.

So, where are Auchi stories vanishing to on-line?  Is it like the disappearing bees?  or poor old WIlf worrying where all the stars are going in tomorrow’s Doctor Who? Where have Nick Cohen’s stories about Mr Auchi gone?  And why do the replies remain?  Where is the original story that The Observer brokeWhat exactly happened in the 1950sWhat is the Italian connection?  And what connects Norman Lamont, Keith Vaz, and David Steel? Where has one New Statesman story gone? And why are the only people apparently bothered about this on-line censorship those at Harry’s Place, Private Eye and Martin Bright?  And would there be more of a fuss in relation to this if there wasn’t a connection (however, tenuous) to Mr Obama?

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About loveandgarbage

I watch the telly and read when not doing law stuff and plugging my decade and a half old unwatched Edinburgh fringe show.
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