Tag Archives: RFA

Taiwanese man faces charges for broadcasting uncensored news to listeners in China

(Source: Radio Free Asia)

A Taiwanese businessman is scheduled to face trial in Thailand’s northern Chiang Mai city next week on charges that he illegally hosted a radio station that broadcast uncensored news to listeners in China, amid claims that Beijing pressured Thai authorities to shut down the station.

The June 19-20 hearing at the Chiang Mai provincial court comes more than five months after Chiang Yung-hsin, 52, was indicted on charges of setting up the station without a permit for Sound of Hope (SOH), a San Francisco-based radio network that was founded by Falun Gong, a religious movement banned in China, according to court documents.

Chiang, who could be jailed for up to five years if convicted, denies the charges, saying the broadcasting facility was set up by his tenants.

“I did not set up any radio station, but friends used the premises I rented to set up transmitters,” Chiang told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, in a brief interview in Bangkok through an assistant while denying the charges against him.

Chiang’s attorney was not available for comment. Prosecutors and Chiang’s defense team are scheduled to present their cases over the two-day hearing.

Sound of Hope Radio is a public network that broadcasts news to China through shortwave radio signals in nearby countries, spokesman Frank Lee said.

Lee alleged that the Thai government pressured Chiang, who was not aided by a translator, to sign documents pleading guilty at the time of his arrest. He also alleged that Thai officials were pressured by the Chinese government.

“Giving in to the pressure from Beijing to suppress free press is not good for Thailand and its people,” Lee told BenarNews.

“Mr. Chiang is a volunteer for SOH, he didn’t do this for his own gain. We urge the Thai government to free Mr. Chiang so that he can return to Taiwan to his wife and two children.”

But Thai officials flatly rejected the claims.

“Thai law enforcement arrested Chiang without any pressure from the Chinese,” a Thai security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BenarNews.

In August 2018, officials shut down the shortwave radio station broadcasting from property that Chiang rented in Chiang Mai, and arrested him on Nov. 22, 2018. He was released on bail three days later but ordered to remain in Thailand.

Police filed the charges against Chiang alleging that he violated the Radio Communications Act and the Broadcasting and Television Business Act, both of which carry a sentence of up to five years if convicted because he did not have the necessary permission or license to operate, according to various sources.

“The Thai justice system is handling this case,” Busadee Santipitaks, spokeswoman for the ministry of foreign affairs, told BenarNews when asked for comment.

Protests against prosecution

In January, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) spoke out against Chiang’s arrest.

“This totally unjustified arrest deals a new blow to the freedom to inform in Thailand and penalizes Chinese listeners who count on this radio station for information that circumvents censorship,” RSF said in a news release at the time.

“We call on the Thai authorities to stop abetting Beijing’s operations against opposition media outlets and to drop charges against Chiang.”

RSF said it has learned that the Chinese government pressured the Thai authorities to shut down the radio station.

Paris-based RSF said Thai officials took the action after receiving a complaint from a “mysterious witness” who claimed to have seen a 30-meter (100-foot) antenna being erected at the site.

SOH insisted that no antenna was constructed because it is not needed for shortwave broadcasting and denied any involvement in “illegal broadcasting,” according to RSF.

U.S.-based Freedom House had also spoken out against Chiang’s arrest. It said the Thai government took advantage of his limited knowledge of the language and “deceived Chiang into what amounted to signing a confession.”

“This is not the first time Beijing has pressured Asian governments to crack down on SOH broadcasts,” Freedom House had said in a recent update of press freedom news related to China published on its website. “In 2011, two men in Vietnam were jailed for broadcasting content into China, and Indonesian authorities attempted to shut down SOH affiliate Radio Era-baru, which transmitted programming to local Chinese communities in Southeast Asia.”

Lee said the SOH broadcasts were needed.

“SOH believes shortwave broadcasting to China is very critical to the people in there to learn about truthful and accurate news in China and around the world,” Lee said. “The Chinese communist regime constantly censors news on its human rights violations, religious persecution and objective news from around the world.”

Founded in 1992 in China’s northeast, the Falun Gong spiritual movement gained increasing influence as the fastest growing religion in the PRC and overseas over the next seven years. In 1999 the Chinese government at the orders of then President Jiang Zemin began a harsh and sometimes deadly crackdown on the sect, dragging practitioners from their homes and sending them to detention centers.

Outside of China, the movement was considered harmless and continued to flourish. It is often cited as an example of religious persecution in China, with practitioners and allied religious freedom advocates holding protests in major cities to bring attention to the situation faced by Falun Gong believers in the PRC.

Click here to read the full story at RFA News.

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“Go after North Korea with sanctions and short-wave radio”

(Source: Yahoo News)

Key GOP Lawmaker: Go after North Korea with sanctions and short-wave radio

WASHINGTON — House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R.-Calif., called Wednesday for tough new sanctions on Chinese banks that do business with North Korea. Royce also said the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang has been losing its totalitarian grip on a population increasingly getting information from short-wave radio and contraband South Korean movies.

Royce said in an interview with Yahoo News on Sirius XM POTUS Channel 124 that he had met with a top North Korean defector who played up the impact of communications from the outside world as a way to pressure the government of Kim Jong Un.

“He told me that the one thing really shaking the resolve of people across North Korea is the information that’s coming in on two short-wave [radio stations] run by defectors,” Royce said. “They’re telling people what’s really going on in North Korea and in the outside world.”

The defector, Royce recalled, said, “You should help amp that up and get that all across the country.”

Voice of America and Radio Free Asia — descendants of Cold War-era information warfare — currently broadcast 10 hours per day of short- and medium-wave radio into North Korea, according to a congressional aide. And Congress doubled their Korean-language programming for the year ending Oct. 1 to $6 million, where it will stay for the next fiscal year, the aide said.[…]

Continue reading at Yahoo News…

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RFA suspends in-country operations in Cambodia

(Source: Radio Free Asia)

WASHINGTON – Libby Liu, President of Radio Free Asia (RFA), today issued the following statement about RFA’s decision to suspend in-country operations in Cambodia:

After almost 20 years of bringing the Cambodian people independent, reliable and trustworthy news and information from inside the country, Radio Free Asia has regrettably been forced to close its Phnom Penh bureau. The government’s relentless crackdown on independent voices in recent weeks has made it impossible to keep the bureau open while guaranteeing the integrity of RFA’s journalistic mission.

It has become increasingly apparent that Prime Minister Hun Sun has no intention of allowing free media to continue operating inside the country ahead of the 2018 elections. The government has instead seized on every opportunity to go after critics, political opponents, NGOs, and independent media committed to reporting the truth. Using a thin pretext of tax and administrative violations, authorities have closed independent radio stations carrying RFA, Voice of America, and Voice of Democracy. The government has forced The Cambodia Daily newspaper to close due to an extreme and punitive retroactive tax bill and has kept its manager, Mr. Steele, from leaving the country under threat of criminal charges. Authorities have been employing these same tactics against RFA, despite our full cooperation at every step to comply with all requests and our sincere efforts to register as a licensed media company. Nevertheless, they have resorted to false statements and increasingly threatening and intimidating rhetoric about RFA, made mostly through leaked documents on government mouthpiece media and random statements from different ministries.

Facing down intimidation is nothing new for RFA. Our journalists and commentators have been threatened, jailed, and forced to leave the country to avoid arrest or worse. But recent developments have intensified to an unprecedented level, as Cambodia’s ruling party shamelessly seeks to remove any obstacle or influence standing in its way of achieving absolute power.

Through the years, Cambodian journalists working for RFA have risked their lives to report on corruption, illegal logging, forced evictions, bribery, labor disputes, and rights abuses, among other important stories largely ignored by state-controlled media. Their hard work has helped to build the foundation of RFA’s investigative, in-depth journalism from the ground up and has earned us the trust of the Cambodian people — to whom we also owe our heartfelt gratitude. The sacrifice and support of staff and audience alike reinforces the need for RFA to keep Cambodia’s citizens informed, so they possess a more complete and accurate picture of what’s happening in their neighborhoods, their towns, and their villages. We hope that the government will not persecute the individual brave Cambodians who worked with us in retaliation for RFA’s efforts to bring reliable free press to their countrymen and women.

RFA stands resolved to stay true to its vital mission in Cambodia, now more than ever, to go forward shining a light even in the darkest of hours. RFA will keep reporting on the most important and censored issues and events inside the country — and we will continue to broadcast and publish our programs, reports and content on shortwave radio, social media, and on our website.

As history has shown, dictators may rise and force their will on nations, but the people will always seek truth in pursuit of freedom.

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“Shifting away from shortwave”: Significant reductions for BBG under FY 2018 budget

Edward R. Murrow Transmission Site near Greenville, North Carolina

(Source: BBG Press Release via Dan Robinson)

FY 2018 budget request reflects key BBG priorities amid spending constraints

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Broadcasting Board of Governors today released the FY 2018 budget request to support key U.S. foreign policy goals by providing news and information around the world while accommodating the current tight fiscal climate.

“As is true throughout the federal government, the budgetary environment requires that we prioritize our resources while emphasizing impact and maintaining the level of excellence our audiences have come to expect,” said CEO John F. Lansing. “Despite reductions in spending, we are committed to our mission, impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world by providing accurate, unbiased, and uncensored news and information.”

The tight fiscal environment necessitates BBG to improve operational efficiencies and make difficult resource trade-offs to effectively meet performance goals and support U.S. foreign policy priorities.

The $685.1 million budget request includes transmission, program and staffing reductions across all BBG networks—the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks—and the International Broadcasting Bureau, including the Office of Technology, Services and Innovation. This includes reducing, and in some cases, eliminating certain language service capacities; shifting away from shortwave transmissions where they have the least impact; and optimizing information technology.

Although the funding request represents a 12.9 percent reduction from the FY 2017 enacted budget, it prioritizes funding for U.S. foreign policy goals, including combatting violent extremism, countering Russian disinformation, and enhancing programming for North Korean audiences. It also capitalizes on the momentum gained from the streamlining of operations in 2016 and the aggressive shift to digital already underway at each of the five networks.

The request includes $680.4 million for International Broadcasting Operations, including Federal and non-Federal networks, as well as $4.7 million for Broadcasting Capital Improvements.

The FY 2018 budget request contains proposals to continue the agency’s responsive shift to the most effective media platforms, respond readily to crises, keep pace with shifts in audience demographics and interests, and sharpen strategy and results measurement to drive performance.

BBG’s extensive network of seasoned, professional and well-connected journalists is particularly strong in regions where ISIS, Russia, Iran, China and other global actors that do not share American values are attempting to make further inroads.

“Should Congress enact this budget, there is no doubt that staff reductions would be difficult,” Lansing said. “We will do everything possible to minimize the effect on our employees by emphasizing attrition, early retirement opportunities, and agency buyouts for federal employees wherever possible. Our staff and journalists are the core of what drives our impact around the world. We will do everything we can to safeguard our greatest asset.”

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National Defense Authorization Act passes House, now moves to Senate

SX-99-Dial-Nar

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who writes:

This just came to my attention. It seems that William McClellan (Mac) Thornberry, the Republican representative of Texas’s 13th congressional district and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, proposed an amendment to H.R.4909 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that would revamp how the Voice of America, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, etc. are managed:
https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/1018/actions

Text of amendment is here:
http://amendments-rules.house.gov/amendments/GECv3517161723182318.pdf

It appears the amendment was accepted by the House and the House passed the amended H.R.4909 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and it has moved on to the Senate:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4909

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