The recent PR campaign against Sarawak Report, supposedly supported by a team of enthusiastic Tweeters and Facebook fans, has accused this writer of being a “liar” and a “forger” and of being a paid “activist posing as a journalist”.
Yet our research, together with the UK’s Independent newspaper, into the anonymous outfit behind this campaign, has shown that these descriptions perfectly fit the accusers instead.
The Independent has today published their investigation and featured our complaint against Facebook and Twitter, for taking inadequate steps to protect victims from this kind of abuse.
Because, it is not only Sarawak Report that is being defamed and abused by this expensively commissioned ‘Black PR’ campaign.
A whole series of innocent and vulnerable people are also being exploited, because their pictures and identities are being stolen and used to create fake characters in a clear act of forgery and lies.
These include Ashraf Rossli (above) a Malaysian student, who gained world sympathy when he was robbed on camera during the London riot. Ashrai is depicted by these hired forgers as a fictitious character called Sam Woo, who falsely claims in his tweets that Sarawak Report removes comments by people who disagree with its reports.
“Wow! Post a question on the sawarak report and if they don’t agree with you it gets deleted. I thought they were about transparency?!” [sam woo @Malayobserver2]
Further victims of this form of identity theft and abuse even include people who have died and reputable individuals, whom these fake Twitter accounts associate with seedy call girls and dodgy ‘followers’.
Indeed, as the UK’s Independent newspaper has today reported to an outraged British public, these scammers have dragged in all manner of innocent people into their vendetta against Sarawak Report, in retaliation for our reporting on 1MDB and the corrupt petroleum company PetroSaudi.
A British Artcic explorer, Philip Goodeve-Docker, who recently died tragically after becoming stranded in appalling icy conditions, for example, has been reinvented as a banker named Harry Drakeford, allegedly keen to promote an anonymous defamatory Facebook site called The Real Clare Rewcastle, which accuses Sarawak Report of lying and forging.
Philip’s father, Nigel Goodeve-Docker, told The Independent “It’s very distasteful. It is cheap to use the photograph of a dead person who can’t complain.”
Numerous other innocent people have had their photos snatched off from websites and then attached to fictitious characters and Twitter accounts, according to the research by ourselves and The Independent.
Photos have even been changed for the same ID, altering them overnight to a completely different race or age group, while keeping the very same name and identity!
In one case a deceased American named Samuel Everett Morehead was revived to form a Twitter account under Sam Everett, with an unaccountable interest in Malaysia and SR.
Unfortunately, our researches have shown that Samuel Everett Morehead died in Dallas, Texas back in March 2013.
Families of Mr Morehead and others treated in this way have every right to be shocked and to complain at the lack of respect for their loved ones. However, the scammers then callously switched the photo for this fake onto somebody completely different.
Meet the new ‘Sam Everett’!
This new Sam Everett is in fact a chap called Kelvin Fang, from a completely different nationality and part of the world and several decades younger!
In real life Kelvin is a property consultant in Australia and presumably has no idea that his face is being used in this way.
Cynically, the liars and forgers behind this identity claim in his personal statement:
“Opinions/tweets are my own and they are usually serious”.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Yet, despite this string of abuses by paid PR companies, who are also defaming us, we encountered a worrying lack of response and concern from both Facebook and Twitter when we tried to alert them to the problem.
Sarawak Report was forced to take legal action and to inform the British media over an issue that we believe Facebook and Twitter ought to have rectified right away by removing the offending ‘sock puppets’.
Another well-known face abused by the paid defamers of Sarawak Report was the Turkish Greenpeace environmental campaigner Gizem Arkhan (left).
She endured time in a Russian jail after highlighting the problem of drilling in the Arctic.
Yet, Gizem has been re-invented by the PR campaign as a different environmentalist called Ella Dooley, whose fake tweets are all designed to poke criticism and accusations against people working for this site.
Another use to which these sock puppets have been put has been to deliberately tweet falsehoods to the professional clients and associates of people working with Sarawak Report, in a malicious attempt to undermine their business and damage their livelihoods.
The long list of people used in this way includes British travel company executive, who advertises a help line under her name Rosy for the company Responsible Travel in London.
Thanks to the forgers she has now been re-designated as an air hostess working out of KL.
Like all the other fake Twitter accounts, hers was created on October 23rd at the start of the campaign and at the same time that the Facebook site defaming SR was set up. Her tweets are designed to steer people to look at that Facebook site, which has paid for “promoted content” status on Facebook to get further attention.
One senior British lawyer also abused in this way, Nathan Willmott, was dismayed when Sarawak Report informed him that in his case his real name and photograph is being used for another of these Twitter characters, which has nothing to do with him.
He was particularly upset that the forged site makes reference to alleged activities with his family members and confirmed to Sarawak Report that this liberty with his personal life was a fake intrusion.
In another case a senior Irish union leader, who has just retired, named David Begg, found that his photograph and mis-spelt name are being used on an account that attacks Sarawak Report and praises the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
His office told Sarawak Report that he would not be pleased and they confirmed that Mr Begg has never had a Twitter account in his life.
The long list of people being treated in this way continues.
One Malaysian girl, who had spoken to the press about her ultra-orthodox Muslim views and willingness to be circumcised, had her photo re-invented into a fake character called Rose Verdon – again promoting anti-SR material.
Later, the scammers again seem to have had a change of mind about this identity, so a few days later and welcome to the new Rose Verdon (below).
No longer is she an orthodox Malay girl, but a British expat living in KL!
Another fake persona in this campaign goes under the name of Edward Bungaree, who is particularly aggressive against Sarawak Report and like many of the characters is also used to post attacking comments on our site.
Yet in reality his photo comes from a completely different Malaysian chap called Kavin Menon, according to reverse picture searches.
Altogether, Sarawak Report has identified dozens of these characters, each of one of which represents an abuse of the identity and privacy of an innocent person, quite apart from taking part in a defamation campaign against Sarawak Report, which is also innocent of the accusations that the people hiding behind these characters are making.
However, when Sarawak Report attempted to report these concerns to Facebook and Twitter, explaining that not only were falsehood and untruths being spread on sponsored (paid for) Facebook content, but that ordinary unwitting people were being exploited for their images and identities, we found a shocking lack of response.
These are billion dollar companies, which make their money from people interfacing on the web, but we found them virtually impossible to contact via the web themselves, especially to complain.
Finally we had to send legal letters, because the complaints procedure is so inadequate. At no point can you lay out the details of your complaint in writing to Facebook, neither can you appeal directly to a customer relations officer.
Instead, the company merely provides a tick box option from a handful of pre-decided categories of complaint, which they have offered you to select.
There is no space to explain the details of your complaint or the reasons for your concerns. You are not even given the opportunity to say whether you yourself are the victim of the harassment or a third party complainant.
Twitter does allow the complainant to detail the complaints, but it produced no better result.
All the complaints submitted by Sarawak Report and related parties to Facebook and Twitter rapidly triggered a pro-forma negative responses, informing us that Facebook’s and Twitter’s ‘Community Teams’ had not judged that the ‘reported issue’ breached their guidelines.
Twitter’s standard brush off reply stated:
“We reviewed the account and content reported and are unable to take action given that we could not determine a clear violation of the Twitter rules surrounding abusive behaviour.”
Neither company offered a right of appeal.
The impression thereby given is Facebook and Twitter’s Community Teams consider that making money from stealing of people’s identities (including those of the dead) in order to used them to aggressively libel a third party for commercial purposes does not breach their guidelines.
To take further action complainants are obliged to hire lawyers to track down Facebook’s own elusive legal representatives at their address: 1 Hacker Way, Palo Alto.
We have asked if this is an option available, for example, to vulnerable young people?
Or to people who are being misrepresented by fake characters using their identities?
For the record, Sarawak Report denies and refutes all the lies and accusations made against the Editor of this site, which untruthfully accuse her of criminal actions or willingness to participate in criminal actions and of receiving illicit payments etc etc.
We deplore the tactics of selectively quoting out of context and with malicious intent private messages that were passed to the Swiss PR man Marc Comina by his client Xavier Justo and which he then passed on to third parties in a blatant and concerted attempt to allege that Sarawak Report ‘forged’ the evidence about 1MDB and PetroSaudi.
Till now Mr Comina has failed to respond to our queries as to whether he is also behind this dirty online campaign, which UK contacts have informed us was being recently commissioned in London by a Swiss PR company.
Meanwhile, it is on the record that Comina has supplied to journalists the materials (eg whatsapp messages) that are being abused by this dirty PR campaign.
The lawyer Marc Henzolin, with whom he is working supposedly to represent Xavier Justo, told one Swiss newspaper Le Temps, in an ‘exclusive interview':
“My client has attended meetings where the Malaysian opposition and Clare Rewcastle Brown clearly evoked the political use they intend to make the documents they had not read. He considers that the documents have been used unscrupulous way and that some have been changed. But to what extent, what volume, he does not know. What is certain is that he has the impression of having been used, handled. In addition, he has not been paid, so he’s a little angry.” [Google Translate Le Temps]
The interviewer from Le Temps is one of Mr Comina’s own top Facebook friends and he never asked for Sarawak Report to comment on this defamatory accusation, even though he had our number.
Mr Comina has further failed to answer as to whether his actual client is not in fact the company PetroSaudi, rather than the jailed Mr Justo.
We have accused PetroSaudi of corruptly participating in the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, partly thanks to evidence provided by Justo, whom the company then denounced for blackmail.
Mr Comina has told journalists that the present advice to Justo from his Swiss PR cum legal team has been to confess to PetroSaudi’s allegations of extortion and allege that Sarawak Report ‘doctored’ innocent emails from PetroSaudi in order to get an early release in Thailand.
However, just a few days ago Justo’s own legal team, of which Henzelin is part, dropped his appeal for an early release, leaving him to rot in a Thai jail where he cannot testify against PetroSaudi or 1MDB.
Comina and the black PR ops, who are using his material, should therefore stop making false accusations and staging anonymous dirty online campaigns against Sarawak Report.
If their employers have an issue with what we have published they should come out in the open and sue us in a court of law instead… something they have so far dared not do.
We send out the latest story at 7am Malaysia time