A shadowy “researcher” recycles doubtful claims about HK’s Occupy Central onto the world stage writes John Berthelsen for Asia Sentinel.
For weeks, the China Daily and other top Chinese news organizations have been reporting on “secret meetings” between Hong Kong democracy advocates and US organizations such as the Washington, DC-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its subsidiary, the National Democratic Institute.
The “secret meetings,” which have actually been reported routinely in Hong Kong’s press, supposedly have been uncovered by what is described as an authoritative and respected Bangkok-based researcher named Tony Cartalucci. The problem is that as nearly as can be told, there is no such person as Tony Cartalucci. And what “Cartalucci” appears to have done is to have created a chain of biased or bogus online stories that travel in a circle from Bangkok to Moscow to Beijing to Hong Kong in an effort to discredit the Occupy Central movement.
“Tony Cartalucci” is believed to be a pseudonym made up by Michael Pirsch, who in an abbreviated biography on the website Truthout.com, describes himself as a former “union activist and union organizer for more than 25 years and a DJ on Berkeley Liberation Radio, a pirate radio station” who now lives “as an economic refugee from the United States in Thailand.”
Repeated efforts to contact Pirsch/Cartalucci by email at his Bangkok blog “Land Destroyer” and to his personal email address failed to elicit a reply. Land Destroyer is published not only in English but Arabic, Russian and Thai, indicating a considerable amount of resources.
The leaders of Occupy Central have reacted to Cartalucci/Pirsch’s allegations with irritation, saying they are perfectly capable of running their own protest and they don’t need advice or funding from US agencies.
However, in recent days Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has picked up the allegations, telling reporters that “it is not entirely a domestic movement, for external forces are involved.” He will identify the “external forces” when the time is right, he said. Pro-government politicians Regina Ip and Starry Lee, both stalwarts of the Establishment, have made reference to an “online source” for the rumors and Cartalucci’s allegations have been widely circulated within Hong Kong’s police force and repeated by Lau Nai-keung, a leader of the anti-Occupy movement and frequent commentator in the South China Morning Post.
If indeed Leung and the others are depending on Cartalucci/Pirsch’s reporting, there is plenty of it, a lot of it recycled to Moscow through a website called New Eastern Outlook, a propaganda outlet of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies, a division of the Russian Academy of Sciences. New Eastern Outlook, where Cartalucci is a prolific writer, delivers a daily menu of reports charging the West with a long string of terrible things. On Oct. 25, for instance, the site intimated that the British SAS special forces are behind the ISIS beheadings of British and American hostages, that the US is lying in various permutations about the Ebola virus, that it is a “documented fact” (by Cartalucci) that the US is behind ISIS, that the young Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai “was set up…as a part of a propaganda ploy by British news network, the BBC.”
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