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What We’re Reading: Why the US Revoked the Visa of a War Crimes Investigator

This week’s Friday 5, where we round up our favorite reads from around the online world in English, includes a report from The Intercept about how a US Department of Homeland Security algorithm revoked the visa of Forensic Architecture’s Eyal Weizman, an interview with Paul Caruana Galizia about his podcast My Mother’s Murder, and why almost half of the tech experts surveyed by the Pew Research Center are saying technology will weaken democracy.

Homeland Security Algorithm Revokes US Visa of War Crimes Investigator Eyal Weizman (The Intercept)

The Intercept reported how the head of Forensic Architecture — the Goldsmiths, University of London-based group which uses visual analysis to investigate state and corporate violence and human rights violations — was barred from traveling to the US after a Department of Homeland Security algorithm flagged him. When Eyal Weizman went to the US Embassy in London to find out why, he was asked to supply 15 years of travel history and “the names of anyone in my network whom I believed might have triggered the algorithm.” Weizman refused to provide that information. As he told The Intercept, his work requires him “to create very varied and very diverse sets of networks,” with sources in places like Syria, Gaza, or Pakistan.“This much we know: We are being electronically monitored for a set of connections — the network of associations, people, places, calls, and transactions — that make up our lives. These networks are the lifeline of any investigative work.”

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Son Opens Up About ‘My Mother’s Murder’ Podcast (

In this interview, Paul Caruana Galizia talks about the emotional making of his podcast My Mother’s Murder, and his work in keeping alive the investigation about his mother — and the stories she was reporting on. Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in 2017, after years of reporting on corruption involving the most powerful businessmen and politicians in Malta, which included her work on the Panama Papers. In November last year businessman Yorgen Fenech was charged with complicity in her murder. Read more about the Daphne Project in this ICIJ interview with Juliette Garside, investigations correspondent at The Guardian.

Many Tech Experts Say Digital Disruption Will Hurt Democracy (Pew Research Center)

The Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center canvassed 979 technology experts last year to ask about the potential future effects of people’s use of technology on democracy. About half predicted that the use of “technology will weaken democracy between now and 2030 due to the speed and scope of reality distortion, the decline of journalism, and the impact of surveillance capitalism.” One-third of them expect technology to strengthen democracy as reformers find ways to fight back against info-warriors and chaos. Want the short version? Read Nieman Lab’s summary of the report.

A Journalist’s Undying Legacy (OCCRP)

On the two year anniversary of the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, who were shot in their home in Bratislava two years ago, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project launched a page dedicated to the reporting around his death. The page also includes work that OCCRP is continuing — based on reporting that Kuciak began — on how the Italian mafia had infiltrated that country’s political system. Reporters spent months processing and cataloging data tied to the murders, including files from the Slovakian businessman accused of masterminding the assassinations, and put it all in an archive in Bratislava that is available to journalists. Here’s the latest piece.

Watching the Watchdogs (IPI)

This report by the International Press Institute wraps together much of work done by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab into the NSO Group and its Pegasus spyware, including the recent report about a New York Times journalist targeted by Pegasus (which also appeared in a recent Friday 5). The piece delves into other surveillance technology, including that of the Milan-based Hacking Team — which, it says, is being used in 21 nations, including Sudan and the United Arab Emirates — as well as various “homegrown” technologies and efforts by state-sponsored cyber cops in Iran, China, and Kazakhstan.

Tanya Pampalone, GIJN’s managing editor, rounded up this week’s Friday 5. Tanya is the former executive editor of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and former managing editor of Maverick (now Daily Maverick). She is a contributor to Unbias the News: Why Diversity Matters for Journalism and Southern African Muckraking: 150 Years of Investigative Journalism Which Has Shaped the Region

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