tv The Listening Post 2019 Ep 44 Al Jazeera December 4, 2019 8:33am-9:01am +03
al-jazeera investigates the politics of oil in the middle east and those potent economic with saudi aramco company understand. on. no. secret is go ok let's try this cut down on me all right. i'm just trying to design to right street. hello i'm richard gilbert and you're at the listening post here are some of the media stories that we're covering this week big news that beijing didn't want out there somebody inside the communist party wants the outside world to know what is happening in st john the conflict of interest the corporate kind reporters at bloomberg news cannot investigate their boss who happens to be running for the white house they're tracking journalists from inside their phones the governments are buying an insidious piece of israeli
software to target activists and reporters they don't like and is a deep fake version of boris johnson those are all less why should you believe me any less credible than the real boris johnson. it is one of the biggest human rights stories on the planet one that we've reported on before just not in this kind of detail it is about china specifically the province of sindh jang and the estimated 1000000 weekers and other muslim ethnic minorities currently held in massive internment camps there previously most of what the world knew about sin jang came through some satellite imagery carefully controlled official tours of those camps plus the accounts of some of those imprisoned there now the international consortium of investigative journalists and the new york times both say they have troves of classified documents to work with reportedly leaked from within china's communist party both organizations say the documents prove the
internment camps are not about reeducating extremists or fighting terrorism as beijing would have the world believe but to indiscriminately imprison and brainwash sin jans. muslim population in response china has borrowed a phrase or 2 from off shore calling the leaks fabrications and fake news but as new evidence emerges beijing's narrative is proving increasingly difficult to defend our starting point this week those classified documents on the camps in sin jack. for classified chinese government documents to come to light the last time there was a leak of this kind was to my knowledge in 2001 with the leak and that. this is an unprecedented. because the chinese government under the rule incomes
have been one of the most secretive. on the world. this new documents. piece narrative out of the water just no more denying no more hiding it's basically over for beijing's propaganda and shinji. the leaks represent a quantum leap in our understanding of what is unfolding in synch human rights violations on an historic scale what the chinese government has produced what the international consortium of investigative journalists and the new york times have published is basically a how to manual how to incarcerate as many as a 1000000 weekers and other ethnic minorities how to deprogram them of their muslim culture how to reprogram meld them into the larger population of han chinese how to
hide the story from the outside world and when exposed how to spin that story by calling the prison camps vocational training centers where people can learn job skills and. supposedly free to leave the one thing that stood out for me in the leaked confidential document is that the very 1st section talks about anti escape missions police guards locking doors complete camera surveillance even though we kind of knew about this was very struck by the intensity at which this was described in the documents did a really notable insight talks about how confidential and sensitive the so-called vocational training workers meaning the chinese government itself was really trying to shroud the whole campaign in a cloud of secrecy it had a strategy of denial and a classified document clearly confirms the strategy but also really struck me was the point system that's used in the camps so inmates are graded according to
their behavior and also according to their tests so they're required to study chinese language to study chinese communist ideology and chinese law and then they have to take exams those exam scores are used to calculate points and those points are used to determine rewards and punishments such as when they're able to see their family and when they're able to be released what's most important about these documents is that they are evidence you know this shows a clear intent by the 2nd most powerful government in the world to politically really engineer people's thinking what they should be taught what they're not allowed to say what they can't think anymore you know it's one thing to read pain we decide as propaganda that talks about religious freedom being guaranteed to everyone and sometimes when you sit down to read a how to manual by a government that's a that's a permanent member of the un security council it's terrifying.
not that you would see that in the reporting of the chinese president xi jinping demands loyalty in the communist party he leads. and the media outlets the state control they have helped beijing sell its version of the sin jang story to domestic audiences through the pictures that whitewash what goes on in the prison camps stories of dance classes and vocational training. when questioned by international news outlets on the leaks chinese officials need to get their story straight denials from some like china's ambassador to the u.k. have been categorically. telling you what the documents you're talking about is a. fabrication but that was contradicted by a foreign ministry official in beijing who admitted the documents do exist but
accused the new york times of sensationalistic reporting. these leaks may have revealed more than what is happening in synch the timing of the disclosures could reveal a thing or 2 about what is happening in beijing the president she does not tolerate leaks meaning that someone took a big risk in getting the documents out and she jumping took over 2012 made himself a president for life and under the guise of fighting corruption he ran out of thousands of opponents so within the government within the party within the. xi jinping apparently made a lot of enemies so some of these people in the senior leadership is not only disgruntled they're very worried about the direction that she's taking the country to the new york times weeks and demonstrating to us that there was a huge per inch of communist party officials who refused to carry out the campaign
and that's a tension with sufficient enthusiasm so there has been resistant and quite a bit of resistance to these leaks reflect the. act but there are people who view the policy is there with a degree of horror the chinese strategy of keeping a close look on what is happening there i think really indicates how much to consider this to be an atrocity officials who violate party discipline of who leaked any information are being severely punished no person no official no circumstance must be allowed to leak anything at all on the whole reeducation effort to camps or anything related to it i mean this is the government that spent a year in denying that these camps existed at all and then under international pressure changed its tune to suggest that there are only vocational training programs that everybody is perfectly happy to go off to but i think again one of
the matter of fact of the publication of these documents is to show that even you know the chinese government's own internal propaganda their attempt does not hold up people objected of this jack to people within the us their own system said this is the wrong thing to do. the outside world has been seeing a different version of the same story one that has come out in bits and pieces through satellite imagery captured uploaded and interpreted from abroad and occasional testimonies from readers who had been interned but have made it out these new leaks don't just bill in the blank spots in the international reporting these highly classified internal government high bills and destroy beijing a shifting narrative on sin jack they have exposed how the chinese authorities are using technology predictive policing to control the reach or a possible sneak preview of what other states will be doing soon we previously knew
that there was an app that police had on their phones that would suggest names to them of people for them to investigate but this is happening on a scale. larger than we previously knew for example in a period of one week the predictive policing platform suggested the names of 24000 people as specialists and chinese police detained 15000 of them and put them into these detention camps only on the basis of an algorithm that's truly shocking and it really matters because china is actually promoting itself as an alternative governance model from the west and they are actively exporting some of this technology so what's happening in john is not staying and she john. which brings an even greater relevance to what is already a mega story the consortium that broke it consists of 17 media organizations in 14
countries none of them in china since no news outlet would dare take part in the consortium would have known that going in that the impact of its journalism would not be felt in sin jang or even beijing not unless it has an impact elsewhere 1st in the long list of countries that do business with xi jinping china government officials around the world cannot say that not you know. they know we have evidence and the documents that we have seen should be under the desk of politicians legislators and more importantly the prosecutors who go after work permits rather china's government continued to deny the existence of not only the documents but also the camps but the world leaders who call themselves the guardian of democracy and human rights cannot do it anymore but this is the time to.
be discussing other media stories that are on our radar this week with one of our producers flo philips slow in egypt a website widely regarded as one of the few if not the very last. independent news outlet in the country has now been targeted by the authorities there what is the story of the mud that must our last sunday which should plainclothes security forces raided its offices in cairo arresting 3 staff members including the editor in chief lena attala they were released after a few hours of questioning but they said that their phones and laptops have been seized now what triggered this raid was a story that mother must published about president cc's eldest son mahmoud al sisi the article stated that he is in effect being sidelined by his father's in the circle but perhaps just as important is the fact that not a master says it actually got the story from sources inside the egyptian intelligence that this isn't the 1st time that not
a mauser has pushed the limits it's no one for this kind of thorough investigative reporting that egyptians need right now so why now for this raid well 1st off there is a huge to be generally around reporting on presidency c. and his family now not a mass read to cross that line but there's also a sense of unease right now within egypt's power structure back in september we reported on antigovernment protests they were the 1st since sisi took power in a coup in 2013 the madame asked for a raid may have ended with the stuff that being released but since then 3 other journalists have been picked up and quote charged with joining a terror group so signs of trouble in egypt that we'll need to keep an eye on let's move to the us now the 2020 presidential elections it's just what america needs another billionaire running for the white house the owner of bloomberg news so what is the coverage related controversy surrounding michael bloomberg well i mean it's
all in the name isn't it last week shortly after being back announced he was taking a run at the democratic nomination the editor in chief of been bad news a guy called john micklethwait put out a note to stuff on the. kind of coverage their own can expect was pretty straightforward he said we will continue our tradition of not investigating mike now micklethwaite said that that ban on investigative reporting does also apply to the other democratic candidates still the journalists union at bloomberg called the policy alarming saying it should be rescinded one former editor of a bloomberg business magazine meghan muffy summed it up in a tweet she said it is truly staggering that any editor would put their name on a memo that bars an army of unbelievably talented reporters notices from covering massive crucial aspects of one of the defining elections of our time staggering now look i'm sure this won't be the last that we're going to hair on this or that might well be the last from bloomberg news meanwhile the editor micklethwaite has got
some big holes to fill 2 of his senior editors have bolted temporarily they say to work on bloomberg campaign ok thanks love. now here is an offer that many governments just cannot refuse would you like to hack into the phones of journalists gather up every bit of data and trace every call message and keystroke then you're in luck there are some malware malicious software for that this story starts with an israeli company called the n.s.o. group it says it's in the business of cyber intelligence for global security and stability for the company's primary product is known as pegasus it's a program so sophisticated that it can embed into your mobile phone through just one phone call even if you don't take that call the governments that use pegasus from saudi arabia to mexico to india all say they're out to stop security threats but it's also used against civil society including human rights activists and in
october whatsapp sent the n.s.o. group a clear message it's suing the company for developing pegasus to specifically hack into people's devices through that messaging app the listening posts monocular avi now on the growing surveillance threat against journalists and the malware of choice for the governments involved. imagine it's late on a sunday night the end of your weekend. and you get this message. from the group. johns out railton i'm the senior researcher at the citizen lab at the university of toronto in canada the citizen lab works on tracking internet threats against civil society i am lately familiar with your work in this message concerns a specific digital threat that we believe you face i would like to set a quick time to chat again i apologize for the strangeness of such
a contact unfortunately resolutely. the message came to journalists should plan to charge 3 in early october charlie works in india's eastern region the site of a long running leftist insurgency a movement the indian government calls the country's single biggest internal security threat in addition to reporting events that he has set up grassroots media projects with communities caught in the midst of the fighting his work has put him on the radars of both the indian government and leftist guerrillas leaders it's a kind of attention he's become used to. according to another. then i. saw her. on bit insecurity and they came back to. get it. so i responded. shortly didn't know it at the time
but the toronto based research group the citizen lab was contacting him as part of an investigation it was conducting on behalf of a big media company what's the messaging app used by 1500000000 people around the world. the focus of the investigation was a piece of malicious software produced by an israeli from the end it's all. in me what's not had discovered that its message and not specifically its video calling facility was being used to infiltrate the phones of selected targets in the name of this piece of surveillance software pegasus and it is dangerous so pegasus is incredibly invasive technology that has been developed by say really within the last 10 years as a growing industry for law enforcement intelligence agencies to get inside people's devices if you get inside somebodies mobile device you effectively see
window into everything having to do with their world their movements or social relationships even their most private communications even those with her and him encrypted you can turn on the microphone a camera captured sound and of course track somebody because of the g.p.s. so this is extraordinarily powerful surveillance technology there's no such thing as perfect security it's a constant cats and mouse we've got the tech companies conducting massive violence on us and exploiting us and our data we've got hackers who are selling. dangerous cyber weapons to try and get access to people's stuff and we've got governments who for power and control want to know everything about us the way this technology works is mel meant to be stealthy obviously if you're going to ring alarm bells that you have a surveillance technology on your device people will quickly expunge it so the big
evolution and sophistication of n.s.a. attack infrastructure was revealed in may of this year when it emerged that they had developed to keep billet doux to infect a device simply by ringing the phone so they wouldn't have to trick somebody into doing anything they just have to call the number. as cyber warfare grows in importance and the weapons grow more sophisticated national defense officials are equipping themselves buying the best tools available india mexico kenya cutter and saudi arabia are among the 30 countries that are reportedly ennis's clients they say they use pegasus against bad actors extremists in india drug lords in mexico if only it ended there the spyware is also being used on human rights activists community organizers the lawyers working with them and journalists one of the features of pegasus is that it allows client governments to craft bespoke text
messages embedded with links that when clicked upon infect the recipients device. a cd is a saudi rights campaigner and commentator based in london who also produces video bulletins on saudi politics last year he started noticing strange messages being sent his way. i was getting a number of text messages on my fur most of them had links and were asking me to click on them for example one message said there's a protest in front of the saudi embassy against the arrest of my friend for more details click this link the final message i received said that a date had been set for me to be tried in court and that i needed to follow the link to get the rest of the details that's hard began now i had developed a process where i would transfer all of these messages to another computer and open them from there to be safe when i clicked on the link about my suppose court date i
was taken through to the website of the saudi ministry of justice i couldn't even imagine that the official website of the ministry of justice would be used in a hacking attempt so i opened it from my phone i noticed straight away that my device was having issues with lol i did tell. a c says he contacted amnesty international and human rights n.g.o.s had recently found that one of its researchers had also been targeted by pegasus it lead to determine a cd stone had been compromised infected by them on their i missed event to go see the skis to the citizen that much compared it with another case of a saudi dissident based in montreal who had also received some unexplained text messages the citizen lab concluded both men were targets of saudi authorities on and with pegasus we use a combination of that it's some of them are quite a labrat they span a spectrum of techniques from computer science and engineering science to social science other forms of research so it's truly
a mix methods approach honestly over the last 3 years we've been doing research on n.s.o. group or selling to you know countries with horrible track records of human rights abuses and walk of government accountability like the gulf countries like mexico rwanda targets are emerging who were tracked by death squads coming from rwanda it's like a rogues' gallery of autocratic. and so is an autocrat to dream the company keeps developing and refining its techniques from the carefully worded text messages with links that were sent to a cd back in 2018 to the much more deceptive missed call via whatsapp that was used against should plan to charge 3 while in it so says it conducts really good ethics checks on his client states the evidence is clear pegasus is be used against activists and journalists significantly increasing the risks associated with doing their work there's absolutely things that people can especially journalists to try
and protect their communications and their sources a lot of what protects journalists and others on a day to day basis is basic digital hygiene not making silly slip ups not clicking on unknown links opening on their own e-mails. even passwords around and using 2 factor authentication and so on but none of us has the time or energy to try and. it's crazy in this day and age journalists are facing such enormous digital threats we just have to do our best but sometimes stephanie in the case of the pegasus attack sometimes your best probably won't be in. finally deep fakes are coming video footage that has been digitally altered to put words into people's mouths literally to make it look like they're saying things they never have future advocacy calls itself a nonpartisan think tank on global affairs and technology it's out to educate people about the existence of deep fakes the challenges they present to journalists
and news consumers alike with elections coming up in the u.k. they've put out videos of the 2 main candidates boris johnson and jeremy corben appearing to endorse each other we will leave you now with some scarily convincing clips from those videos and a simple question did i just say that we'll see you next time you're at the listening post. i am here with a very special message. tical class here in westminster have failed division has called through our country as we argue with fantastic passion vim and vigor about breaks it i'm urging all labor members and supporters to consider the people before profit and back boris johnson to continue as our prime minister my friends i wish to rise above this divide and endorse my worthy opponent the right honorable jeremy corbin subi prime minister of our united kingdom but you know what don't listen to
me those are my last why should you believe me i think i may be one of the thousands of date fakes on the internet using powerful technologies to tell stories that aren't true and as you can see even i the prime minister can be affected by them. yet no new dollars are in place to govern them things have to change the best years to help us rugby tackle the pigs no children. investigative journalism the. global experts in discussion 3 times you get a deal and you disagree with the deal because of the terrible twos it was brett's of us who like to stories from other angles. open your eyes to an alternative view of the world today you have to rethink pretty much everything thank you for talking to al-jazeera separate programs to inspire you on al-jazeera.
i've seen in doha the top stories on al-jazeera u.s. house democrats have released a report laying out the case for the impeachment of donald trump and says the president used his powers to get ukraine to help him with the 2020 lection the white house has called the report's a one sided sham but the chairman of the highest intelligence committee adam schiff says it shows trump tried to see pressure ukraine's leader this report chronicles a scheme by the president i'd states to coerce an ally ukraine that is at war with an adversary russia into doing the pleasure of the president's political dirty work it involves a scheme in which donald trump withheld official act.