On Friday, October 25, reporter and editor Max Blumenthal was arrested for charges stemming from the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC. I urge the government to dismiss this prosecution.
Last spring the Secret Service and Washington DC police allowed a pro-coup mob to surround the embassy and prevent food from getting to the Embassy Protection Collective, which included 70 people living in the embassy.
The nominal charge against Blumenthal is simple assault that allegedly occurred when he attempted to deliver food to the justice activists. The charge is based on a complaint by a person who was part of a pro-coup mob that laid siege to the embassy and, as much video footage shows, engaged in constant racist and sexist invectives against the embassy protectors. The arrest warrant was five months old and had previously been denied.
The justice activists had been invited to remain in the embassy by the Venezuelan diplomats, representing the internationally recognized government of Venezuela, who were forced out of the US by the Trump administration, with the support of Democratic congressional leaders, as they attempted to a coup to bring Juan Guaido to power in Venezuela last spring. The Embassy Protection Collective remained inside the embassy for 37 days, conducting a vigil inside while the building was surrounded 24/7 by far-right supporters of the coup.
The Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting embassies in Washington, DC, allowed this group to lay siege to the embassy, denying participants in the Embassy Protection Collective access to food. Utilities were turned off, including water, electricity, and other essential services.
I oppose the Trump administration’s attempted coup in Venezuela and the siege that was allowed at the Venezuelan embassy in Georgetown in support of the coup. I also oppose the illegal entry into the embassy by the US government in violation of the Vienna Convention. The Convention prohibits the United States to enter embassies in the US without the permission of the government. The violation of the Vienna Convention by the Trump administration puts US embassy personnel around the world at risk. We need to build international law, not undermine it.
Prosecuting a journalist on specious charges adds to the crimes of the US government when it comes to Venezuela and their DC embassy and to freedom of the press. The police did not need an early morning SWAT-style apprehension of Blumenthal when they had not notified him of the revived arrest warrant and given him the opportunity to turn himself in.
Max Blumenthal has described the charges as “100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and [a] malicious lie” He claims the charges are “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.”
DC police are under the control of a Democratic city administration, but here they acted on behalf of the Republican Trump administration. DC claims to be a sanctuary city for immigrants that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the apprehension of immigrants without a court-ordered warrant. It should also be a sanctuary city for journalists that refuse to cooperate with federal attacks on journalists and freedom of the press.
This persecution of journalist Max Blumenthal is consistent with the persecution of Julian Assange for publishing the leaked Iraq War Logs in 2010. The federal government is attacking First Amendment press freedom.
The charges against Blumental should be dropped, along with the charges against four of the embassy protectors, who include the press secretary for my campaign, Kevin Zeese, and the principal health care policy advisor for my campaign, Dr. Margaret Flowers. See DefendEmbassyProtectors.org. The charges against the embassy protectors are a violation of international law, as I have said on previous occasions.