Elon Musk says Starlink won’t block Russian news sources ‘unless at gunpoint’

Elonk Musk tweets he’s ‘sorry to be a free speech absolutist’

Watch live view of Kyiv skyline as fighting rages near Ukraine's capital city

Elon Musk has claimed SpaceX’s satellite broadband company Starlink has been asked by some governments, but not Ukraine, to block Russian news sources.

The Tesla chief executive said he would not do so “unless at gunpoint”.

“Sorry to be a free speech absolutist,” Mr Musk tweeted on Saturday.

He also said that SpaceX was reprioritised to cyber defence and overcoming signal jamming, which would cause “slight delays in Starship and Starlink V2”.

Last week, Mr Musk warned of a high chance that Starlink could be “targeted” in Ukraine, since it is the only “non-Russian communications system still working”.

“Please use with caution,” he had added.

Mr Musk’s Saturday tweet comes just days after the European Union banned Kremlin-controlled media organisations such as RT and Sputnik for spreading Russian propaganda.

While announcing the sanctions last Wednesday, the 27-country bloc said EU operators will be prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of Russian state media content.

“In this time of war, words matter. We are witnessing massive propaganda and disinformation over this outrageous attack on a free and independent country. We will not let Kremlin apologists pour their toxic lies justifying Putin’s war or sow the seeds of division in our Union,” EU president Ursula von der Leyen said.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, had earlier banned RT and Sputnik from using its platforms in Europe.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has, in retaliation, blocked Facebook in Russia for “discrimination towards Russian media”.

Hours later, Roskomnadzor, the country's communications regulator, said it had also restricted Twitter.

Google last week followed Apple’s lead in removing the apps of RT and Sputnik from its mobile app store. Messaging service Telegram too blocked accounts of Sputnik and RT in the EU.

The Russian president on Friday signed legislation into law that would sentence a journalist to up to 15 years in jail for publishing “fake news” against the military.

Mr Putin’s move has forced global news organisations such as Britain's BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Bloomberg News to temporarily halt reporting in Russia.

CNN and CBS News said they would stop broadcasting in Russia, while other outlets have removed bylines from Russia-based journalists as they assessed the situation. The Washington Post said it would not add bylines and datelines to reports from Russia to protect journalists.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in