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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/29/19

Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

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Max Blumenthal
Max Blumenthal
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Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., that took place between April and May.

A team of D.C. police officers appeared at Blumenthal's door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to D.C. central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by D.C. police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

"This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie," Blumenthal declared. "It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition."

The arrest warrant was five months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal's arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant's knowledge.

"If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I'm completely innocent of this bogus charge," Blumenthal stated. "Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the D.C. police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney."

The Embassy Siege

In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela's democratically elected President Nicola's Maduro, in violation of international law.

A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the U.S.-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.

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Ben Norton is a freelance writer and journalist. His work has been featured in Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada, CounterPunch, Truthout, ThinkProgress, and ZNet, among other publications. His website is BenNorton.com. Follow him at (more...)
 

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