SHOCK: Biden DOJ Indicts Four Americans for “Weaponized” Free Speech

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Federal investigators expanded a previous case that accused a Russian operator of conducting unlawful influence agents within the United States by accusing four Americans on Tuesday of participating in a malicious operation spreading pro-Kremlin information in Florida and Missouri.

Authorities charged a man from Moscow named Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov with working for years on behalf of Russian government officials to fund and manage fringe political parties in the United States after the FBI expressed interest in the alleged actions in a series of searches last summer. Ionov is accused of providing political campaign advice to two unnamed Florida candidates for public office, among other things.

The FSB, a Russian government intelligence arm, is said to have overseen and oversaw Ionov’s influence operations.

In an effort to sway American politics, authorities now accuse four Americans of working for Ionov through organizations like the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement in Florida, Black Hammer in Georgia, and an unnamed political group in California.

According to AFP, three of the four APSP members are also charged with operating as unregistered agents of Russia, which carries an additional five-year term, in addition to the conspiracy accusations, which have a maximum sentence of ten years.

“Russia’s foreign intelligence service allegedly weaponized our First Amendment rights – freedoms Russia denies its own citizens – to divide Americans and interfere in elections in the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen in the DOJ’s press release regarding the indictments, adding, “The department will not hesitate to expose and prosecute those who sow discord and corrupt U.S. elections in service of hostile foreign interests, regardless of whether the culprits are U.S. citizens or foreign individuals abroad.”

It appears that the United States has also decided to do away with those freedoms.

The superseding indictment that includes these allegations uses a lot of word acrobatics to hide the fact that the DOJ is bringing legal actions against US people for political speech and activities that happen to conflict with US government policy. The grand jury makes the incredibly vague and nebulous claim that the aforementioned Ionov “directed” these Americans to “publish pro-Russian propaganda” and “information designed to cause dissension in the United States.”

Omali Yeshitela, one of the four Americans charged in the indictment and the founder and leader of the African People’s Socialist Party, has categorically denied ever working for Russia. Before charges were filed against him earlier this month, he was cited by the Tampa Bay Times as saying, “I ain’t ever worked for a Russian. Never ever ever ever. They know I have never worked for Russia. Their problem is, I’ve never worked for them.”

However, it’s crucial to remember that this shouldn’t matter. The First Amendment forbids the government from interfering with anyone’s right to speak freely and associate with whomever they choose. This entails being as outspokenly pro-Russian as one likes and advancing whatever political agendas one sees fit, whether or not doing so serves the interests of the Russian government. The four Americans are accused of engaging in “agitprop” by “writing articles that contained Russian propaganda and disinformation,” according to the indictment. However, even if we pretend that this is both (A) a quantifiable claim and (B) a proven fact, propaganda and disinformation are both forms of speech that the government is constitutionally prohibited from repressing.

The government’s argument that the First Amendment is being “weaponized” and therefore be ignored is not reasonable. You cannot have your government defining what speech is acceptable and what constitutes “agitprop” and “disinformation” because they will always interpret these terms in ways that are advantageous to the government, increasing the power of the powerful and reducing that of the people. You can always rely on the powerful to make these distinctions in ways that benefit themselves, so you can’t have your government deciding which political groups are genuine and which ones are proxies of a foreign government.

The blatant hypocrisy of it all is another factor. With organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy, which was established to aid in the instigation of coups and color revolutions and advance US information interests explicitly in a similar manner to how the CIA used to operate covertly, the US government regularly engages in international influence operations.

Therefore, it is ludicrous and quite frightening for the US government to now assert that it is acceptable to start locking up US citizens for ten years for publishing “propaganda” for another nation. In fact, the most powerful government in the world needs more domestic political dissent than it does less, yet they are attempting to criminalize it.

They really mean that the APSP members engaged in speech and political action that the US government does not like when they say that they published “propaganda” and encouraged “dissention.” Despite the spinmeisters’ and the legalese’s best efforts to obscure the truth, it is happening. Let them not try to hide this from you. They are more concerned that you won’t continue to listen to US propaganda than they are about Russian propaganda.


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