The latest Twitter Files suggest the FBI helped Ukrainian intelligence in an effort to encourage Twitter to censor users, even American journalists.
The Grayzone News host Aaron Maté unleashed the latest installment of The Twitter Files on June 7 in a thread that Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi called “perhaps the most damning about the FBI.” Maté reported the evidence, both on Twitter and Substack: “The FBI aided a Ukrainian intelligence effort to ban Twitter users and collect their data, leaks reveal. Twitter declined to censor journalists targeted by Ukraine, including Aaron Maté.” This newly released evidence once again implicates the U.S. government in an anti-free speech censorship plot, this time in reported coordination with a foreign government.
According to The Twitter Files, FBI Special Agent Aleksandr Kobzanets sent a list of 163 accounts to Twitter in March 2022. The agent did so on behalf of “Ukraine’s main intelligence agency,” SBU, with the following comment: “These accounts are suspected by the SBU in spreading fear and disinformation.” The now-infamous FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan was copied on the email according to a screenshot shared by Maté.
The email, which included an attached SBU memo, listed accounts that SBU accused of being “used to disseminate disinformation and fake news to inaccurately reflect events in Ukraine.” The accounts, SBU claimed, also justified alleged “war crimes” and a “violation of international law.” The screenshots from Maté showed SBU requesting Twitter “to stop Russian aggression on the information front” by choosing “to block these Twitter accounts and provide us with user data.” The user data SBU wanted would have included phone numbers and dates of birth, per Maté’s Substack.
Maté explained that “The Ukrainian government’s FBI-enabled list of accounts marked for censorship extends to members of the media.” His name and Twitter profile appeared alongside Russian journalists’.
According to Twitter’s response through Yoel Roth, Twitter told the FBI it would review the targeted accounts, Maté noted. Roth, however, voiced concerns about SBU’s inclusion of Canadian and American journalists, including Maté’s name. He was open to being convinced, though.
The FBI dismissed its censorship request as “assistance to Ukraine,” Maté tweeted. But he has a different interpretation, tweeting, the “FBI’s attempt to ban Twitter accounts at the request of Ukrainian intelligence is among the most overt requests for censorship” yet uncovered by The Twitter Files.
The FBI would not answer his question about the above censorship, Maté wrote in a tweet. It merely replied, “While we appreciate your inquiry, as a matter of practice we do not confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on specific interactions nor confirm the veracity of correspondence.”
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