Journalist Graham Philips still being targeted by the British state

The British ruling class has a long tradition of persecuting those who work to shed light on inconvenient truths.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

There is a noticeable lack of interest in the case of journalist Graham Philips and his egregious persecution by the British state. The silence from all those on the self-identifying ‘left’ who claim to be on the side of free speech, truth and justice is deafening indeed.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

When speaking with those in Britain who still get their news and entertainment from mainstream media sources, discussions about government censorship of the media and persecution of journalists can often be met by bemused looks and perhaps a snide remark along the lines of: “This isn’t China.”

Such attitudes irresistibly remind one of a penned animal that doesn’t even realise it is living in a cage and believes it is free, simply because it has never cared to venture anywhere near the fence.

Take the persecution of Julian Assange, undoubtedly the most famous prisoner of conscience in Britain today, whose case has attracted widespread support from across the political and social spectrum, including from many individuals and groups who are otherwise respectable and faithful believers in the superiority of the western bourgeois system. Even amongst his staunch supporters, Assange’s case is typically viewed as an aberration, a shocking exception to an otherwise great legacy of British ‘tolerance’ and ‘pluralism’.

The reality is that Assange is not an exception to the rule. Rather, his case is simply the most blatant and poorly disguised instance of a system of state persecution that aims a gun at the head of any truly fearless independent journalist who dares to lift the lid on imperialist crimes that the British regime – in tandem with its fellow imperialist regimes in the European Union and the USA – is trying hard to cover up.

Reporting from the front lines and exposing the lies

The case of Graham Philips is hardly less egregious than that of Assange. Philips is an independent British reporter who reports about the Russian military operation in Ukraine directly from the frontline areas in the Donbass region. These areas are rarely visited by the mainstream media’s war correspondents, who tend to congregate in Kiev and Lvov, far away from the battles they claim to be reporting on.

It would be easy to dismiss this as simple cowardice, but there is in fact a more sinister reason: the frontline areas enduring the brunt of the war are precisely the areas where public sentiment is overwhelmingly pro-Moscow. This hardly fits with the west’s official narrative that Ukrainian civilians are supposedly being battered by Russian bombs.

Graham Philips is one of only a handful of western journalists who give a voice to the voiceless: the targeted but resistant people of Donbass who generally support the Russian military presence and see in Moscow a protector against a fanatical ultranationalist regime in Kiev that is armed to the hilt with western weapons and wants to mercilessly wipe out all resistance to its nazi-inspired policies of eradicating any trace of Russian language and culture.

Facts on the ground paint a picture that is the exact opposite of the ‘Putin is the new Hitler’ propaganda that the imperialist media and politicians have been hysterically bellowing for the past two years. Hence, the British regime’s attempt to silence Philips by slapping him with sanctions such as an “asset freeze” (imperialist code for hijacking your bank account and stealing all your money).

Philips is now virtually penniless and effectively stranded in Russia, where he largely relies on financial help from local friends. The London borough where he lives is attempting to take him to court for unpaid council tax, despite the fact that he no longer has any mechanism by which to pay, having been banned from holding a bank account in Britain.

The government insists that it has not stripped Philips of his citizenship and that he is permitted to return to the country anytime he likes. Nonetheless, assuming that he somehow managed to obtain the airfare, government lawyers have suggested that he may face arrest upon his return for “breaching sanctions”: ie, for setting up a Russian bank account so that he could pay for food and other necessities!

In effect, under the guise of ‘sanctions’, the government has declared it a criminal offence for Philips to continue being alive.

As of January 2024, Philips’ situation does not appear to be improving. The administrative court has ruled against his attempt to get the sanctions overturned, although it is unclear whether he has the right to appeal.

In a 42-page judgement issued in January, the judge effectively declared that “promoting policies that destabilise Ukraine or undermine its territorial integrity or sovereignty” is now illegal under an obscure 2019 anti-Russian bill – the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 – which seems to have been inherited from EU legislation.

In addition, the court claimed that because it deems Philips’ coverage to be “one-sided”, he cannot be protected under any free-speech or journalism laws.

Needless to say, the above arguments could all equally be directed at the western media outlets whose consistently one-sided coverage of the Maidan fascist coup of 2014 and the ensuing conversion of neutral Ukraine into a US puppet regime most certainly did destabilise Ukraine and undermined its sovereignty.

Ironically, the first several pages of the judgement are simply a rehash of anti-Russian, pro-Nato propaganda lines, presented as impartial background ‘facts’ to give ‘context’ to the case.

Champions of free speech look the other way

Naturally, the reaction from mainstream media to Philips’ plight has been one of gloating jubilation that makes their treatment of Assange look positively adoring by comparison. The logic goes somewhat like this: Philips’ coverage is pro-Russian, therefore he is pure evil and has no human rights.

This, from the people who lecture us daily about fighting Russia in the name of promoting human rights!

Philips himself has noted that although he continues to fight his case in court, the vast majority of so-called ‘human rights lawyers’ have refused to have any association with him.

Notably, the sole dissenting media voice opposing the attempts to portray Philips as the moral equivalent of a child rapist is the conservative Daily Mail columnist Peter Hitchens, demonstrating the utter bankruptcy and servility to imperialism among what passes for ‘the left’ in western countries today. Once again, we are seeing that a staunchly capitalist right-wing libertarian has a better understanding of the nature of the state and of imperialism than do most self-identifying ‘socialists’.

Philips is far from the only journalist to have been effectively banished from his supposedly ‘free’ home country. Currently reporting from Donbass like Philips, Alina Lipp is an independent journalist from Germany. She too has been threatened by the German regime with prison time for her reporting if she returns home.

Both are referred to in mainstream media as “Youtubers”, “bloggers” or “social media influencers”, as if someone is only allowed to be called a journalist if they support imperialist foreign policy and are paid by an imperialist media corporation.

As far back as the 1950s, the Australian journalist and committed internationalist Wilfred Burchett was banned from returning to his home country for almost 20 years following to his merciless exposure of imperialist crimes in Hiroshima and the Korean liberation struggle. The same was true of several British journalists in the same period, including Michael Shapiro, who spent the rest of his life in China.

The fact of the matter is that no matter what dung imperialism tries to heap on these and other fearless independent journalists in their lifetimes, history will ultimately remember them as heroes. Just as Burchett’s memory outlived those of the presstitutes of his time, future generations will remember the likes of Graham Philips and Alina Lipp long after time has blown away any trace of the (Laura) Kuenssbergs and (Owen) Joneses on our screens and in our newspapers today.