George Galloway threatens to sue Twitter after his account marked ‘Russia state-affiliated media’

Ex-MP hits out at ‘Kafkaesque’ situation and appeals to Elon Musk

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 06 April 2022 22:00 BST
George Gallow appears on a recent episode of his RT show
George Gallow appears on a recent episode of his RT show (Screengrab)

Former MP George Galloway has threatened to sue Twitter after his account was labelled “Russia state-affiliated media”.

The politician and broadcaster denied working for Russian media and warned the social media giant that he would take legal action if the designation – which appeared in his bio and on his posts – was not removed.

The 67-year-old and his wife Gayatri Galloway have presented a show called Sputnik: Orbiting the world with George Galloway on the Kremlin-linked RT network, formerly known as Russia Today, since 2013.

He wrote: “It’s Kafkaesque really. When I did present on Russian state media I had no Twitter designation. Now that I don’t can’t and would be committing a crime if I did I have been given the designation.”

Ofcom revoked RT’s broadcasting licence in the UK in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

An episode of Sputnik featuring Mr Galloway, titled “Ruble rebounds and US regime change denials”, appears to have been published on RT’s website as recently as Saturday.

The internet archive site Wayback Machine suggests that, at least as recently as 24 March, Mr Galloway’s Twitter bio included a link to the official Twitter account of his Sputnik show, which continues to list him and his wife as hosts.

Mr Galloway directed some of his indignation over Twitter’s move to Elon Musk, who it emerged this week has become the social media site’s largest shareholder.

“Dear Elon Musk,” Mr Galloway tweeted on Wednesday evening. “This must be removed forthwith or action will follow. We had such hopes for your new era.”

Mr Galloway had previously shared a tweet in which Mr Musk wrote on 26 March: “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”

A former Labour MP, Mr Galloway most recently ran for office in the Batley and Spen by-election, where he won 21 per cent of the vote under the banner of his Workers Party of Britain, coming third behind Labour and the Conservatives.

Last May, he led the unionist All for Unity party into the Holyrood elections, but it emerged with no seats. The party was hit by a rift in February, with its former leader Jamie Blackett criticising Mr Galloway’s comments in relation to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In a statement published on the day of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Mr Galloway said it was “not what I wanted to see in Ukraine” and lamented that “it didn’t have to end this way”, adding: “Pumping Ukraine full of Nato weapons, mercenaries and propaganda was a grave mistake (and Russia inherits a billion dollars worth of weaponry)”.

But he came under cross-party fire north of the border, with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accusing him of “acting as an apologist for Russian expansionist aggression” and alleging that his “association with RT has lent legitimacy and influence to the propaganda apparatus of a hostile power”.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Galloway said: “I am not ‘Russian State Affiliated media’. I work for no Russian media. I have 400,000 followers. I’m the leader of a British political party and spent nearly 30 years in the British parliament. If you do not remove this designation I will take legal action.”

It comes a day after Twitter announced it had decided to limit some 300 Russian government accounts, meaning they will no longer be “recommended or amplified” by the site’s algorithm.

The tech firm – access to which has been blocked in Russia, amid a crackdown on independent sources of information about the war in Ukraine – said it would take action against any nation which “restricts access to the open internet while they’re engaged in armed conflict”.

The Independent has approached Mr Galloway for comment.

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