The UK’s NatWest bank has frozen the accounts of RT. No explanation was given and any form of recourse denied. Since NatWest refuses to elaborate on its decision, I feel free to speculate what is behind this move. It can be summed-up in one word: censorship.
The UK has endowed the world with a rich legacy regarding basic human rights, including freedom of expression and a marketplace of ideas. It would appear that rich legacy is being abandoned. Instead of competing for the hearts and minds of the public, Britain’s authorities prefer a monopoly on all public discourse.
On Twitter, RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan hits the nail on the head, “Our accounts in Britain have been blocked. All of them. ‘Decision not to be discussed’. Hail to freedom of speech!”
Нам закрыли счета в Британии. Все счета. ‘Решение пересмотру не подлежит’. Да здравствует свобода слова!
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) October 17, 2016
What is particularly of concern is NatWest’s refusal to explain itself. RT’s motto is “Question more.” And that is exactly what we do. Is this so threatening? Is that what journalism is all about? Why are financial institutions serving the public unwilling to explain themselves to their clients? Have laws been broken? Or is it all about politics?
Until we know more, we are left with the conclusion that western financial institutions – and their political backers – are more than willing to sacrifice values and the basic right of free expression to serve narrow and often mean-spirited interests.
This is sad day for the UK and for publics all around the world.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.