Over the course of the last several weeks and months Rogue Media Labs has been heavily covering the Integrity Initiative and Institute for Statecraft leaks, going as far as to republish and back up as much information as possible from them onto my website to preserve the data. I did this for two reasons, first was to protect the information before it could ever be taken offline by international authorities and secondly, to prove a point as a journalist and show the world the type/quality of content I am willing to put out there.
I bring this up because on January 10th 2019 I was contacted by Dan Kaszeta, managing Director of Strong Point Security Limited in the United Kingdom, one of many parties implicated/exposed by the leaks. He had asked me to remove a section of the leak that contained his organizations emails address, name and bank account details, to which I responded that it is not Rogue Media Labs police to take down any publicly available information found on the internet – which remains a public domain; a public space. After being threatened with lawsuits and all that other “noise,” I explained to him how given that I am not the hacker whom hacked the documents, nor did I coordinate to hack, leak or obtain the documents myself, nor was I the original publisher of the leaks in the first place, I was under no legal burden to take the leaked documents down, nor would I face any legal burden for the information contained inside of them.
Therefore, whether Mr. Kaszeta liked it or not, the documents were staying online and there was nothing he could do about it – or so I thought. I say this because a few days after our exchange on January 17th 2019 I received the following email from WordPress, notifying me that they had corrupted my file, taken it offline and were threatening to take my website down in the future if I continued publishing more information/leaks like it in the future.
Email from WordPress:
I have since made multiple attempts to reach WordPress support to appeal this decision, but have been unable to get through or so much as receive a response. I am appealing this decision because I am unsure how WordPress’s own Terms of Service are not in compliance with US publishing law, the same laws which legally allow me, and other like me, to publish leaks like this in the first place. I am not sure if they fully understand the gravity of their decision here, because WordPress is a US company and their ruling directly violates my rights as a journalist under US law. The problem should be clear for everyone to see.
I have attempted to explain to WordPress that there is a reason why US law enforcement authorities know they can not touch the file I published on my site or the website itself, as well as why they would have stonewalled the UK’s requests to take it down themselves. There is also a reason why law enforcement hasn’t even so much as attempted to contact me about any of the leaked files on my site, because they know US law and know that I am within my rights to publish them. I have attempted to explain to WordPress that they are simply being bullied and/or manipulated by foreign actors in an attempt to get them to disregard US law to advance/protect their own agendas. I have told them I take protecting that article and these leaks/files very seriously, as should they, because there is a principle involved here – knowledge is free and no one should be allowed to censor factual information no matter how rich or influential they may be, such as the case with Mr. Kaszeta.
In that spirit I also took the time to explain to WordPress that the Institute for Statecraft and Integrity Initiative are quite literally part of a UK propaganda operation, used to sow fake news/information across the world – including here in the US. I wanted them to understand that by taking down my file they were empowering/protecting foreign propagandists whom deliberately publish fake/fictional information, whilst punishing a US journalists for publishing real/factual information. Once again, a problem that should be clear for anyone to see. “Is that the stance you really want to take on this” I asked them? Apparently so, because not once have they responded to my appeal and the file remains down/corrupted on my website/media folder.
Regardless of whatever the big-wigs in the UK think or dislike about my website is irrelevant in this matter, and I do not care how much money/influence they pull. The fact of the matter is that my website is in compliance with US publishing law and I continue to demand WordPress re-instate the file on my website. This matter cuts straight to the heart of US journalism, and this is a fight I am not willing to lose – I dare any of the parties involved to be stupid enough to take me to court over this. If anyone reading this feels as strongly as I do, please express your concern/support to WordPress yourself.