Canada’s Global News and spy agency served with libel notices by U.S. media outlet

Consortium News portrayed on Global News broadcast as part of ‘Russian cyber influence’ campaign that ‘targeted high-profile Canadian politicians’

WASHINGTON, DC – Consortium News, an independent news website founded in 1995 by a leading American investigative reporter, served libel notices today to the Canadian signals intelligence agency (Communications Security Establishment CSE) and the national TV network Global News.

Consortium News says it was defamed  on Dec. 10, 2019, by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and by Global News, both on its website and broadcast, as being “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.” 

A caption on Global News‘ website under a screenshot of a 2017 Consortium News‘ articles reads: “A CSE report says Consortium News was part of an attack from Russia on Chrystia Freeland’s reputation.”

Freeland was the then Canadian foreign minister and is now deputy prime minister.  The 2017 Consortium News story reported that Freeland had hidden the fact that her grandfather had edited a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland during the Second World War, a fact that her office later admitted being true.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), is the Government of Canada’s national cryptologic agency. Administered under the Department of National Defence (DND), it is responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting Canadian government electronic information and communication networks.

Global News is the news and current affairs division of the Canadian Global Television Network. The network is owned by Corus Entertainment, which oversees all of the network’s national news programming as well as local news on its 15 owned-and-operated stations. 

The Global News website, citing a leaked CSE report, says categorically that “Russia directed this campaign.”  And Global News said Consortium News led this campaign. “The first attack was a February 2017 report in the ‘online Consortium News’ followed ‘in quick succession’ by pro-Russian English language and Russian-language online media, the CSE report says,” according to Global News.

On the broadcast, the presenter says: “It looks so real, that’s the thing, lots of people get fooled because it looks like a legitimate news source.”

In fact, Consortium News was founded in 1995 by the late Robert Parry, a former investigative reporter for the Associated Press and Newsweek who broke some of the biggest Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s, revealing the identity of Oliver North and his role in the scandal.

“Consortium News is a totally independent, reader-funded, registered 501(c)(3) non-profit website that is in no way funded or directed by Russia or the Russian government whatsoever,” said Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News.

Lauria became editor of Consortium News after Parry’s death in January last year. Lauria was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal for six and a half years, for The Boston Globe for six years, was part of the investigative unit for the Sunday Times of London for ten years, and was a correspondent for Southam News (publishers of the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, etc.) for nine years, a chain that during his time with Southam was purchased by CanWest, which also owned Global News.

Consortium‘s Deputy Editor, Corinna Barnard, was an editor at both the Dow Jones newswire and The Wall Street Journal. Among regular, paid contributors are Patrick Lawrence, a former Asia editor for The International Herald-Tribune;  As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese-American professor at the University of California and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Ray McGovern, who delivered the daily Oval Office intelligence brief to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush; and John Kiriakou, who led the capture of al-Qaeda militant Abu Zubaydah.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, and famed journalist and filmmaker John Pilger are on Consortium‘s Board of Directors. 

Alberta Press has reached out to both Global News and CSE for comment.

George Brownwell / Alberta Press

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