CUSIB condemns firings of journalists at Radio Liberty, welcomes Ethan Gutmann to Advisory Board

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – www.cusib.org) has condemned the recent mass firing of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) Moscow bureau journalists. The independent and nonpartisan NGO, which advocates for expanding free flow of information from the United States to countries without free media, has also welcomed China scholar and human rights activist Ethan Gutmann as the newest member of its Advisory Board.

The following press releases are reposted from the CUSIB website.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) www.cusib.orgSeptember 30, 2012
For Immediate Release

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting Condemns Crippling of Radio Liberty in Russia

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) stands in solidarity with Lyudmila Alexeeva, Chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, in her call for the expansion of Radio Liberty broadcasts in Russia and the reversal of the sudden decision to to fire dozens of experienced human rights journalists at the RL bureau in Moscow. CUSIB supports the call of Russian human rights leaders to the U.S. Congress to investigate the actions of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) management that have crippled Radio Liberty and damaged America’s image in Russia.

CUSIB condemns RFE/RL executives for engineering a mass firing of Radio Liberty journalists precisely at the time when the Kremlin bans RL broadcasts in Moscow, having already banned them in the rest of Russia, and stifles all other independent media which support democracy. The timing of the firing and an earlier selection of a new Radio Liberty Russian Service director shortly before the mass purge of personnel and immediately after a semi-private meeting with President Putin could not have been worse from a public diplomacy perspective regardless of the candidate’s anti-Kremlin views. Russia is a country where opposition leaders feel that the U.S. Administration does not care much about violations of human rights. Russian media coverage of RFE/RL management’s actions has been uniformly negative, some describing as a mockery the management’s explanations that fired employees were treated with respect and that they in fact were not fired but signed voluntary termination agreements and departed happily.

CUSIB is disturbed by this account in openDemocracyRussia of a former Radio Liberty journalist and filmmaker Mumin Shakirov how he and his colleagues were called suddenly at their homes by a receptionist and told to report to the office of an international law firm where they learned that they were being dismissed.

“The lawyer’s arguments are convincing: legal action against the company will be fruitless; he is making us an offer we can’t refuse; mutual agreement, severance packages, everyone to hand in their ID passes and equipment. Full stop. Nearly twenty journalists lost their jobs that day, and the same number the next. In two days, Radio Liberty’s Moscow office was shut down. Not a thank you, not a goodbye. End of the story. Curtains. Nearly twenty years of working for the station finished.”

CUSIB notes that Russian human rights activists concluded that even the KGB was not able to inflict as much damage on Radio Liberty and America’s image in Russia as did RFE/RL management by its most recent actions.

CUSIB also notes that the loss of the AM transmitter in Moscow and the shift to Internet, where Radio Liberty is already well-established, did not require abandonment of vigorous broadcasting, which will be impossible without the carefully built-up pool of talent. Streaming and podcasting are widely accepted now and used by Radio Liberty. Furthermore, hybrid text and sound websites are well-established models which Radio Liberty already follows. None of those models require cutting loose the journalists that have won Radio Liberty a distinguished reputation and loyal audience.

CUSIB is appalled by accusations of slander against some of these fired employees for criticizing the actions of RFE/RL management. President Putin has recently signed a law reimposing large fines for slander. Such accusations alone stifle free debate.

CUSIB appeals to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to intervene on behalf of these brave men and women, who were subjected to a humiliating treatment by their American mangers, and to defend the sense of mission and reputation of this U.S. taxpayer-supported institution.

The letter of protest, signed by Russia’s most famous human rights, was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Congress.

The letter was also addressed to Senator Benjamin Cardin who is Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which also is referred to as the U.S. Helsinki Commission. The commission is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords and works to address and assess democratic, economic, and human rights developments. Its other Co-Chairman is Rep. Chris Smith.

For further information, please contact:

Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director

Tel. 646-251-6069


Ted Lipien, co-founder

Tel. 415-793-1642

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments. www.cusib.org

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September 25, 2012
For Immediate Release

CUSIB Welcomes Ethan Gutmann to Advisory Board

The Committee for U. S. International Broadcasting welcomes Ethan Gutmann to serve as a member of the Advisory Board.

Ethan Gutmann, currently at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was formerly a senior counselor at APCO China and reported from Beijing for several years. As chief investigator for the AV network in Washington DC during the 1990s, he directed the “American Investigator” documentary series. At the Brookings Institution during the 1980s, he served as a foreign policy analyst. Gutmann completed a BA and a Master of International Affairs at Columbia University.

Ethan Gutmann’s seminal research into Chinese Internet surveillance, the Laogai, and the intersection of Western business with Chinese security objectives has received sustained attention for over a decade.

He has written widely and prolifically on China issues for Asian Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Weekly Standard, National Review, World Affairs Journal, and many other publications. Along with recognition from The New York Times, The Browser, and the House of Representatives for “The Xinjiang Procedure,” Gutmann’s research for Execution Ward was supported by generous grants from the Earhart Foundation, the Peder Wallenberg family, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Characterized as a “mammoth sociological, political whistleblower” by National Review for his book, Losing the New China, Gutmann has received several awards for his outstanding writing. These include the Visual Artists Guild’s “Spirit of Tiananmen Award,” New York Sun’s “Best Book of The Year,” and the “Chan’s Journalism Award.”

Gutmann has been invited to provide testimony and briefings to the United States Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency, Geneva’s International Society for Human Rights, and various parliaments: the European Union, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. In the academic and public milieu, Gutmann has spoken at universities and press clubs around the world, and has appeared on PBS, CNN, BBC, and CNBC.

Along with his wife and eight-year-old son, Gutmann has resided in London for several years.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – www.cusib.org) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments. CUSIB supports journalism in defense of media freedom and human rights and works closely with the executive branch, Congress, and media to promote effective multi-channel delivery of news and information to overcome press censorship.

For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069
Ted Lipien, co-founder
Tel. 415-793-1642
You may also email us at: contact@cusib.org.

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