NatWest bank has frozen the accounts of Russia's state-funded broadcaster RT.
Russia Today (RT), a well-regarded news agency funded by the Russian government, appears to be the latest casualty in a war intended to silence the critics of Western governments, particularly the United States. This morning, RT’s bank accounts in England were frozen without explanation. The news came only hours after WikiLeaks announced that Ecuador had been intimidated into severing Julian Assange’s internet connection shortly after Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speech transcripts were released. RT’s Editor-In-Chief, Margarita Simonyan, announced the seizure of their bank accounts in a tweet yesterday morning, saying: “Our accounts in the UK have been closed. All Accounts. ‘The decision is not subject to revision’. Long live freedom of speech!“
The National Westminster Bank of England, also known as NatWest, informed RT’s UK branch that it will no longer accept the broadcaster as one of its clients. NatWest provided no explanation for the move other than the following statement: “We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities.” The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), which owns NatWest, also stated that all of their associated banks would also refuse service to RT. RT was told that the decision was final and that the banking group “is not prepared to enter into any discussion in relation to it.”
It seems highly likely that this decision was politically motivated, especially considering the recent escalation in anti-Russian propaganda as well as RT’s success in England.
Publisher Marcus Papadopoulos confirmed this theory in an interview with RT where he said:
“RT has a lot of viewers in Britain. Many British people now tune in to RT to receive information on major topics around the world, including in Britain. And many British people believe that the alternative accounts that RT puts forward and covers are more truthful than what they’re hearing from, for example, Sky News. If no bank in Britain would allow RT to be a customer, then that could spell the end of RT broadcasting in Britain, which would be a catastrophic event for freedom of speech in Britain.”
Freedom of speech may indeed be under threat, though some have dismissed news of RT’s issues in England as necessary due to Putin’s alleged influence over the network. Such people, especially those partaking in the new “trend” of neo-McCarthyism, claim Russia’s funding of RT immediately rules out its credibility even though RT has proven itself as one of the few media outlets with a wide reach that has reported on important stories left untouched by mainstream media. RT’s Russian government funding is also irrelevant as other outlets, such as BBC and NPR, are also government funded, but have not been accused of questionable reporting as a result of that funding. If anything, these latest developments show that the West is losing the information war and is running scared.
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