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But We Can Explain The inconsistency: Russia Is So Tiny, And Israel Is So Big
From Just Journalism:
Inconsistent media attitudes to misuse of UK passports abroad
30 June 2010
Though many and crucial differences exist between the cases of the alleged Russian spy ring arrested in the US yesterday and the suspected assassination by Israeli agents of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January this year, the common misuse of British and Irish passports is worth noting. In the latter case, expressions of political and media outrage were abundant; in the former, not so much on either front.
An editorial published by The Guardian following the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from the UK following the Dubai affair: ‘Israel and Britain: The rule of law,’ (24 March 2010) carried the sub-head, ‘The forging of British passports is the work of a country which believes it can act with impunity when planning the murder of its enemies’. The piece described the faking of UK passports as ‘the mark[s] of an arrogant nation that has overreached itself.’ In today’s editorial, ‘Russian espionage: Spies like us,’ in the same newspaper, the alleged use of a forged UK passport failed to even elicit a mention.
The BBC, too, seems to view the fraudulent use of British passports by foreign governments in the service of illegal activities, as requiring nuance. In its coverage so far the profile given to the UK passport forgery is negligible. Of the eight articles (1) published on its news website on the subject in the last 24 hours, only three (2) even mention the issue. Paul Reynolds did draw a link between the two cases at the tail end of his piece, ‘Russian 'spies' were no James Bonds,’ identifying this common alleged use of British passports by Israel and Russia as ‘one diplomatic footnote which might be followed up by the British and Irish governments.’
BBC broadcast coverage followed the same line, treating the misuse of UK passports as a footnote. Yesterday's PM programme on Radio 4 contained a three-minute report on the story in which the introduction stated: ‘British officials say they’re investigating whether a member of the alleged Russian spy ring used a UK passport.’ In the subsequent interview with an ex-KGB agent, the subject was not revisited. Last night's The World Tonight did not mention this point in its brief coverage at all. On the channel’s flagship news programme, Today, only one of the numerous reports contained a (passing) reference to the use of a British passport by the alleged spies.
Both the BBC Six and Ten O’clock news editions contained brief mentions of the fact that a British passport may have been used by the alleged Russian spies, whereas Channel 4 News gave the allegation prominence by including it in its introduction to the story; however, this was not followed up subsequently.
Unlike the swift and strong political reaction from the UK to the suggestion that Israel had misused British passports in the Dubai affair, the Foreign Office has, as yet, not issued harsh words aimed at the Russian government. However, this only goes some way towards explaining the near total lack of interest on the part of the British media in this aspect of the Russian spy ring story.
(1) 'Russia plays down US spy arrests,' 'Spy row highlights ambivalent US-Russia ties,' 'Profile: Russia's SVR intelligence agency,' 'Russia rejects US allegations of spying as baseless,' 'Russian 'spies' were no James Bonds,' 'Suspected Russian spies charged in US,' 'FBI allegations against 'Russian spies' in US,' 'Cold War meets 21st century meets 'burger summit''
(2) 'Russia rejects US allegations of spying as baseless,' 'Russian 'spies' were no James Bonds,' 'FBI allegations against 'Russian spies' in US'