Home / Pets Training / Julian Assange is rallying behind Catalan separatists ahead of a historic referendum — and Russia has taken notice

Julian Assange is rallying behind Catalan separatists ahead of a historic referendum — and Russia has taken notice

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has seized on a
historic independence referendum set for Sunday within the
Spanish area of Catalonia, the use of his Twitter account
to pump out a pro-separatist narrative geared toward villainizing the
Spanish central executive and celebrating Catalan nationalism.

Assange, for all intents and functions, has grow to be the
independence motion’s leader global spokesman. The huge
majority of his tweets this month, in lots of instances
written in Spanish and Catalan, have focused
round selling Catalan secessionism and “self-determination” as
a bulwark towards Madrid’s
“repression.”

Russian information company Sputnik has helped, too — and
has taken notice of Assange’s tweets.

The outlet posted 220 tales concerning the Catalan independence
motion between September 11 and 27, in accordance
to The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic
Research Lab, maximum with false or deceptive headlines and a
transparent pro-independence bias. The outlet’s headlines
gave “more prominence to Assange” than both Catalan separatist
chief Carles Puigdemont or Spanish Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy. 

“Catalan” used to be the 3rd highest-trending hashtag amongst
Twitter accounts related to Russian affect operations as of
this newsletter’s e-newsletter, consistent with Hamilton 68,
a virtual platform that goals to trace Russian
propaganda in actual time.

It is unclear what number of of the ones customers are bots. But a
swarm of those computerized accounts has additionally been
selling 
and parroting Assange’s accusations
of misconduct and oppression by way of the Spanish central
executive. 

“A significant part of the early amplification” of
Assange’s most well liked
tweet about Catalonia got here from computerized accounts, The
Atlantic Council reported. The trend has prolonged to his
different Catalonia-related tweets, together with one the place he
in comparison occasions in Catalonia with the ones on Tiananmen Square
in Beijing and some other the place he referred to Madrid as a “banana
monarchy.”

Students
attend a demonstration in choose of the banned October 1
independence referendum in Barcelona, Spain September 28,
2017.
Juan
Medina/Reuters

The narrative Assange has been peddling is now not, at its core, too
a long way off-base: Madrid has declared the referendum unlawful, and
federal police raided a dozen Catalan regional executive places of work
final week — and arrested fourteen regional officers — in an
try to stall the vote. And whilst Catalan electorate have by no means
authorized secession in previous referendums, Madrid’s crackdown would possibly
make them consider carefully. 

But Assange’s exaggerated characterizations of Madrid as a
“banana monarchy” and the referendum itself as a “war”
between “an occupying energy” and “a liberation
fight” have created the sort of hysteria and department that
dangers fracturing now not best Spain however all of the European Union —
and that Russia, staring at from a distance, flourishes on.

“The destiny of president Rajoy, PP (Spain’s ruling celebration),
Spain’s safety products and services and judiciary hangs within the stability over
Catalonia,” Assange tweeted on
Friday. “A surprise wave is coming and no trick is too grimy, no
lie is too daring and no escalation is an excessive amount of for a deep state to
save itself. Watch.”

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has
additionally rallied to the reason, framing Catalonia’s independence
motion as a human rights fight. He tweeted a hyperlink final
week to an op-ed written by way of the chief of Catalonia’s separatist
motion, writing that “the Spanish crackdown on inconvenient
speech, politics, and meeting in #Catalonia is
a violation of human rights.” 

Wikileaks, too,
has been weaponized: Its Twitter account, which many
consider to be operated by way of Assange, alleged final week that Madrid
used to be looking to “crush” the October 1 vote. 

A handy propaganda instrument

Mark Kramer, the p
rogram director of the
Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian
and Eurasian Studies, mentioned that WikiLeaks has grow to be
“a convenient propaganda tool for the Russian government” in
its effort to wreak havoc amongst NATO states and the European
Union.

“Julian Assange based Wikileaks as a result of of his virulent
hostility towards the United States and different Western democracies,
and he has an increasing number of transformed himself into a Kremlin stooge
to lend a hand undermine NATO and the EU,” Kramer said. “He and the
Russian government percentage a deep animosity towards the democratic
capitalist West, and Assange has grow to be a dependable mouthpiece for
Kremlin propaganda and disinformation.”

On Friday, Assange gave the impression to echo a Sputnik record
printed that morning that mentioned Spain had closed the
airspace over Catalonia to forestall small plane from taking
pictures of the referendum turnout.

The executive did make a decision to limit the airspace over the
area in preparation for Sunday’s vote, however now not for the explanations
Assange or Sputnik would have their readers consider.
Restricting low-flying plane from soaring over massive crowds
has lengthy been same old process in Spain, which has carried out
the foundations ahead of massive carrying occasions up to now.

Catalonia’s
regional President Carles Puigdemont and former regional
President Artur Mas salute the group in
Barcelona
Thomson
Reuters

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on
Thursday that the Kremlin used to be
“the use of the
Catalan disaster as a strategy to deepen divisions inside
Europe and consolidate its global affect…within the
shape of web pages that submit hoax tales, the
process of activists akin to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
and a legion of bots – hundreds of thousands of computerized social media
accounts that may flip lies into trending subjects.”

Murky hyperlinks 

The hyperlink between Assange, WikiLeaks, and Russia has all the time
been murky. The US intelligence group believes the 3
labored in combination to undermine Hillary Clinton all over the 2016
election, whilst Assange has staunchly denied that Russia used to be
its supply for hacked Democratic National Committee
emails.  

But as journalist and Russia researcher Casey
Michel famous this week,
the Kremlin has now not precisely been an independent observer of
Spain’s fresh political turmoil.

“Catalonian independence advocates are amongst the ones
who’ve flown
to Moscow to satisfy with a crew that, as of 2016,
gained Kremlin investment to lend a hand community Western separatist
teams,” Michel famous.

“This crew, the Anti-Globalization Movement of
Russia, issued a
observation final week supporting the secession push,
evaluating Catalonia to Crimea – the latter of which continues to
be extensively appeared within the global group as a
constituent section of Ukraine.”

The Anti-Globalization Movement, which partnered with
California separatist crew Yes California past due final yr, goals
to advertise “conventional ethical values” and “helps international locations and
peoples who’re … looking for an alternate schedule” to the
“monopolization
of the sector device of members of the family and governance” by way of the
United States, consistent with its site.

The motion’s first Dialogue of Nations convention, held
in Moscow in 2015, used to be attended by way of separatist leaders from Puerto
Rico, Hawaii, and the Uhuru black nationalist motion. Its
2d convention, 
partly
funded
 by way of a Kremlin grant 
of
$54,000

introduced in combination
“representatives of nationwide liberation actions from all over the place
the sector.”

Kramer, of Harvard, mentioned that Russia’s beef up for western
secessionist actions has little if anything else to do with “in need of
to uphold the main of sovereignty.”

He famous that 
Russia has been very
selective about which separatist actions it needs to again and
which it needs to suppress, pointing to Moscow’s stronghold
on Chechnya and refusal to acknowledge Kosovo as an impartial
nation whilst backing separatist forces in Georgia and forcibly
annexing Crimea from Ukraine. 

In Europe, Kramer added, Moscow supported the Scottish National
Party’s bid for independence as section of its “lively
marketing campaign to sow turmoil and department inside NATO and the EU…now
the Russian government are doing the similar factor with the Catalan
independence referendum.”

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