Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

Blumenthal has been arrested on false charges after reporting on Venezuelan opposition violence outside the D.C. embassy. He describes the manufactured case as part of a wider campaign of political persecution, reports Ben Norton. 

By Ben Norton
Grayzone

Max Blumenthal, the editor of the news site The Grayzone, was arrested on the morning of Oct. 25 on a fabricated charge related to the siege of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., that took place between April and May.

A team of D.C. police officers appeared at Blumenthal’s door at just after 9 AM, demanding entry and threatening to break his door down. A number of officers had taken positions on the side of his home as though they were prepared for a SWAT-style raid.

Blumenthal was hauled into a police van and ultimately taken to D.C. central jail, where he was held for two days in various cells and cages. He was shackled by his hands and ankles for over five hours in one such cage along with other inmates. His request for a phone call was denied by D.C. police and corrections officers, effectively denying him access to the outside world.

Max Blumenthal.

Blumenthal was informed that he was accused of simple assault by a Venezuelan opposition member. He declared the charge completely baseless.

“This charge is a 100 percent false, fabricated, bogus, untrue, and malicious lie,” Blumenthal declared. “It is clearly part of a campaign of political persecution designed to silence me and the The Grayzone for our factual journalism exposing the deceptions, corruption and violence of the far-right Venezuelan opposition.”

The arrest warrant was 5 months old. According to an individual familiar with the case, the warrant for Blumenthal’s arrest was initially rejected. Strangely, this false charge was revived months later without the defendant’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arraignment. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” Blumenthal stated. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the D.C. police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.”

The Embassy Siege

In April and May, Washington-backed Venezuelan coup leaders began taking over properties in the United States that belong to the internationally recognized government of Venezuela’s democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, in violation of international law.

A group of activists responded by keeping a vigil inside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., in order to protect it from an illegal seizure by the U.S.-supported coup leaders. The activists formed what they called the Embassy Protection Collective. The internationally recognized Venezuelan government gave them permission to stay in its embassy, which is its own sovereign territory under international law.

In response, hordes of violent right-wing activists who support the Venezuelan opposition launched a de facto 24/7 siege of the embassy, preventing people, food, and supplies from entering the building.

The Grayzone reporter Anya Parampil and Alex Rubinstein, a contributor to The Grayzone, were embedded in the embassy with several peace activists.

Parampil and journalists including Blumenthal documented the right-wing mobs lashing out with racist and sexist invective as well as violence at Venezuelan solidarity activists who gathered outside the embassy to show support for the protectors.

False Charge 

Court documents indicate the false charge of simple assault stems from Blumenthal’s participation in a delivery of food and sanitary supplies to peace activists and journalists inside the Venezuelan embassy on May 8, 2019.

The charge was manufactured by a Venezuelan opposition member who was among those laying siege to the embassy in a sustained bid to starve out the activists inside.

“I was not party to any violent actions around the Venezuelan embassy,” Blumenthal reiterated. “This ginned up claim of simple assault is simply false.”

According to court documents, Ben Rubinstein, the brother of journalist Alex Rubinstein, also participated in the non-violent and legal food delivery. Rubinstein was arrested over 12 hours later after the food delivery by Secret Service police officers.

He spent 20 hours in jail, alongside Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace, who was arrested after being brutalized by Secret Service officers for attempting to toss a cucumber inside an embassy window.

“The opposition members made up these lies about Max and I know they’re lying, and they are obviously using the government and police as tools to get revenge,” Ben Rubinstein told The Grayzone.

Retaliation for Reporting

Max Blumenthal reported extensively from outside the Venezuelan embassy in May. He filed a story explaining how “the pro-coup mob outside turned violent, physically assaulting embassy protectors, and hurling racist, sexist and homophobic abuse at others.”

Blumenthal documented an opposition activist breaking into and subsequently vandalizing the embassy, in violation of international law. He also reported on opposition members destroying the embassy’s security cameras, while the authorities stood idly by.

The Venezuelan coup regime’s supposed ambassador to the United States, Carlos Vecchio, who is not recognized by the United Nations and the vast majority of the international community, helped to lead this aggressive mob as it besieged the embassy.

The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil exposed Vecchio to be a former lawyer for the oil corporation Exxon. The Grayzone has documented his close links to the US government, and has reported at length on accusations of corruption. Vecchio was a regular presence outside the D.C. embassy, appearing with his gaggle to stage manage the situation.

The Grayzone has also published numerous exposés on Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, who was selected by the U.S. government to be the “interim president” in Caracas, detailing his extensive ties to Washington and his notorious corruption.

Blumenthal was arrested literally hours after The Grayzone published an article on USAID paying the salaries of Guaidó’s team as they lobbied the U.S. government.

“I am firmly convinced that this case is part of a wider campaign of political persecution using the legal system to shut down our factual investigative journalism about the coup against Venezuela and the wider policy of economic warfare and regime change waged by the Trump administration,” Blumenthal stated.

If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro’s authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a reporter for The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast,” which he co-hosts with Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

This article is from The Grayzone.

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37 comments for “Grayzone Editor Max Blumenthal Arrested Months After Reporting on Venezuelan Opposition Violence

  1. Peter in Seattle
    November 2, 2019 at 12:34

    October 25 was a Friday. I’m just surprised DC police arrested Max in the morning rather than the evening, to maximize the odds of his languishing in jail over the weekend. Then again, the odds of finding him at home were better in the morning than in the evening and they denied him any phone calls, so a reasonably full measure of pre-arraignment punishment was delivered anyway. Mission accomplished.

    If the DC bench is dominated by the same caliber of power-coddling mediocrities that now dominate the federal bench — which I fully expect it is, given the appointment and confirmation process — I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Max to be compensated or for anyone in the law-enforcement chain of command to be deterred from committing similar abuses in the future. I expect dismissal of charges is the very best he can hope for.

    Finally, I’m curious: in DC, how many simple-assault defendants who aren’t known to be armed, violent offenders are arrested the way Max was, with a SWAT-style show of force? All of them? Or was Max “special”?

    PS: Wouldn’t it be funny if the complainant turned out to be on USAID’s payroll, too?

  2. nwwoods
    October 29, 2019 at 20:13

    The vile invective directed toward Max on McResistance Twitter by the bootlicking, brain dead Clintonites is something to behold.
    I suppose that is something should have grown accustomed to by now, but I am nonetheless still shocked by the reflexive authoritarianism of the New Democrats.

  3. incontinent reader
    October 29, 2019 at 19:45

    I hope Mr. Blumenthal has retained or will retain top legal counsel to accept his case on a pro-bono basis and organizations like the Center For Constitutional Rights and ACLU and Roots Action to provide pro-bono amicus curiae legal support- and that after he wins on the criminal charge, he sues the complainant and their organization with a vengeance and seeks a massive judgment. If he sets up a crowd funding site, he will get support from many quarters.

    • Charlene Richards
      October 29, 2019 at 21:44

      He should try to hire Dan Stormer in Pasadena.

      Check out Dan’s bio. He would be a HUGE fighter for Max!!!

    • kate lattimore
      October 30, 2019 at 16:42

      Definitely I would contribute to that. Max and Ben do amazing work they are brave and smart and I’ve learnt so much from their work for which I’m really grateful. I guess the imperial state feels it can act with even more impunity and even more brazenly against journalists than normal with Assange banged up and being tortured in maximum security prison currently waiting extradition

  4. Uncle Bob
    October 29, 2019 at 18:07

    Crank it up!

    The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
    youtu.be/SHhrZgojY1Q

    Verdad al poder

    Nunca te rindas Max

  5. robert e williamson jr
    October 29, 2019 at 16:00

    I see many over thinking this event. It either has to be that or many here are simply refusing to identify this event for exactly what it is.

    Justin King of the Fifth Column News has no such qualms about expressing his sentiments and calling events such as this what the are, the manifestation of policies and actions that occur under dictatorial rule.

    You will see if you go to the youtube and request either of these videos, I recommend both. The MSM is actively supporting an outlaw dictatorial acting president by supporting the reporting of these stories and no others that might legitimize a deeper insight to the cause and effects behind these events by providing balance.

    Search for “Lets talk about the Presidents legal argument against all criminal liability”. Oct 24, 2019. Runs 4 min 43 seconds.

    Or this, hopefully you will watch both they are both, “We talked27, 2019 about impeachment.” Oct 27, 12019 Runs 12:28-29.

    I submit that if the U.S. Constitution is to be protected here the current resident of the White House and the media who are making excuses for him both need to be brought to justice for their involvement in activities that violate many, many articles of the U.S. Constitution.

    In the process the DOJ should be ordered by Congress to work to release, Julian Assange, Ms. Manning and all others netted in these witch hunts by DOJ.

    In the meantime I strongly recommend that we entice Edward Snowden to return to the U.S. and help us reclaim our country.

    Or do we all set around waiting for the knock on our door? I’m writing my senator, Senator Richard Durbin almost weekly these days. I suggest everyone else do the same.

    This situation is past talking about by us our government needs to DO SOMETHING!

    Thanks to CN!

    • Abby
      October 30, 2019 at 02:06

      Congress is just as complicit in what is happening to us as Trump is. I’m sorry that people can’t see this. Most of congress is just fine with what’s happening to Assange and now Max. This country had its coup back when Kennedy was killed. We are now being ruled by the corporations that get congress to do their bidding.

  6. October 29, 2019 at 13:22

    Sacrificial lamb? Example to the ‘others’? Where is this going?

  7. Lily
    October 29, 2019 at 12:37

    This is unbelievable. Can anybody come along and make false accusations now? Is there no “In Dubio pro Reo?”
    Who is defending Max? Any more news? These are horrible times. The criminals are walking free.

  8. dean 1000
    October 29, 2019 at 12:18

    This sounds like a situation for the ACLU to get Blumenthal’s accuser on the witness stand.

  9. John Dean
    October 29, 2019 at 12:10

    George Orwell said it all. Telling the truth today is ‘thoughtcrime’ and you will be punished accordingly. Orwell’s telescreens are now the smartphones that we cannot live without and they spy on us 24/7 Google is the Ministry of Truth and the Ministry of Love all rolled into one. No wonder they pay no tax anywhere in their dominions. Max Blumenthal is a brave citizen who tells the truth. God help him.

    • Uncle Bob
      October 29, 2019 at 18:14

      Ooohhh, just began reading Snowball’s Chance by John Reed. Al Cockburn’s Forward is priceless

  10. doris
    October 29, 2019 at 11:57

    Amerikans just don’t learn from history. “It can’t happen here!”

    Truth is the enemy of the state. It’s been the enemy of this state since its inception.

  11. Eddie
    October 29, 2019 at 11:55

    Since the broad-daylight kidnapping of Julian Assange after he was given asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, the new ground rules that in the US and their puppet nations across the pond are certified police states. Barack Obama eliminated the notion of due process under the law when he declared the the US president has carte blanche to murder anyone on the planet at his/her whim. No one is safe from US governmental brutality and summary execution. Arresting journalists has become routine in the US. Unless and until workers replace the illegitimate US government with a socialist government that works for We the People, the tyranny will continue apace.

    • Bethany
      October 29, 2019 at 18:58

      Absolutely. Good comment. Very few people (comparatively) upset at what is happening to Julian Assange. The totalitarian noose tightens (or in the words of Hannah Arendt, “iron bands”) but probably the majority won’t care until they find themselves in the gulag.

  12. Rob
    October 29, 2019 at 11:36

    Two words: POLICE STATE!

    • Charlene Richards
      October 29, 2019 at 22:00

      I am very upset about what is happening to Assange.

      But I am a 70 year old retired nurse spending long days watching grandchildren and am on a fixed income in Southern California!

      What am I supposed to do with NO TIME and NO MONEY? Write letters to President Trump and Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Harris begging that THEY intervene to save Assange’s life??!!

      Seriously. Give me a place to send some $$ that will actually HELP Assange and I would send him my last twenty bucks!

      People like me have NO time or money to waste!!!

      Get an activist group of lawyers going to bat for Assange with a press conference at the DC Press Club with a clear website to send $$ and they would be FLOODED with contributions!

      We need THOUSANDS of activists constantly protesting outside the prison where Assange is!!! In the rain and snow! Like an Occupy Wall Street with food being delivered!!!

      Seriously?!

  13. GMCasey
    October 29, 2019 at 11:33

    Perhaps the D.C. police need a refresher course on the First Amendment.

  14. Philip Munger
    October 29, 2019 at 11:02

    I’ve been observing Mr. Blumenthal now for over 11 years. I’ve read all his excellent book, and hosted on-line book reviews of his first two books. I hosted him during one of his two Alaska trips, and observed him working and performing research.

    Max is a totally fearless and relentlessly honest journalist and author. He is also very mild mannered in the face of threats and pressure. I can’t imagine him actually assaulting anyone. Watching videos of the Venezuelan embassy siege while it was happening clearly showed the coup backers pushing, yelling and threatening.

  15. October 29, 2019 at 10:56

    An absolute disgrace, as is this nation’s thuggery as foreign policy.

  16. Anon
    October 29, 2019 at 10:44

    This is chilling and I fear for real journalists. I thought that they just had it in for Julian Assange, but now it is anybody who opposes the state narrative.

    • Charlene Richards
      October 29, 2019 at 22:05

      Max needs to ask Dan Stormer, an Attorney in Pasadena, to come to bat for him.

      Stormer has a budget in his law firm built in to help people like Max!!!!

  17. Paul Meyer
    October 29, 2019 at 10:36

    It is starting. Bishop Niemoeller’s aphorism comes to mind. “First they came for the Communists, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist…” When the Law is a tool for lawlessness, we are all at risk. Only those who shut up and submit will be safe…

  18. October 29, 2019 at 09:38

    It’s called “Lawfare” and it is a hideous distortion of the rule of law. What have we come to. Max needs to go on a PR offensive.

  19. R Skinner
    October 29, 2019 at 09:14

    Completely disgusting to watch MSM and political establishment report on trivial in house cat fighting rather than bear down on finding the truth on much more pressing issues.

    • michael
      October 29, 2019 at 16:52

      The MSM and political establishment are on the same side of all the important issues, mostly against We the People, as Max Blumenthal has repeatedly shown. Recently:
      youtube.com/watch?v=GksxHD4zkns;
      youtube.com/watch?v=vFZlkK4wH2o Max is a pesky mosquito, and he is annoying dangerous people.

  20. smuck
    October 29, 2019 at 06:52

    The bardamu comment is on point. Nation State leaders develop the courage to defend the state when the governed subjects fail to act, to deny actors in the state, sufficient power/authority to wrongfully prosecute. Its now too late, I don’t think it really makes a difference what the governed think; those in charge of the nation states around the globe have imprisoned their governed , stuffed their courts, made their laws, and armed themselves with sufficient fire power and spy power to be able to defend any challenge. Those in charge have all the weapons, all of the rule making powers, and all of the authority. Without the guidance of independent journalism, the government has been able to create a security perimeter to protect its power and authority from any objection the masses might raise. The nation state leaders have used the nation states they lead to capture control over Journalism. Journalism is a mind control weapon, journalist are highly trained thought soldiers able to make the thinking ammunition; but unable to access the weapon (media) capable to fire the ammunition without permission from the state. When the ammunition guys challenge the authority or the integrity of the weapons guys, the ammunition guys become terrorist. .

    A Journalist who opposes those in control of the state is considered a terrorist. Journalism is now and has always been used either as a tool at the disposal of those who control the nation state or as a weapon that has the power to terrorize the leadership of the state. There is no in between. The default system of governance is fast approaching.

    Dictatorship is the default in all governed societies; which suggest the problem is governed anything. Democracy requires appositives to keep the government from expressing its default condition. Independent journalist are classified by the state, as terrorist. Journalism has failed democracy because it has given insufficient direction and because it soldiers have sold out, they have joined the state, they have become part of the mind control technology that the leaders of the states use to control the masses in the containers their state governs.

    The nation state is a human crucible which allows the leaders of a state to blend the governed masses into a oneness; the pestle used by the state to grind the contents in the crucible to homogenized pulp is propaganda. The container bounded humanity is fed propaganda and churned, blasted, and ground by the pestle until the contained minds uniformly fits the mold. Those in charge of the information environment inside of each Nation State controlled, human containers, are soldiers. The nation state system is a system designed to divide 8 billion humans, into 208 containers (nation states) and to operate on the contents of those containers until the masses contained inside have been crushed and blended into a uniform mass that can be easily controlled. Those in control of the nation state will not tolerate propaganda that retards the smooth operation of the pestle.

    Independent Journalist will be martyred, independent thought in nations and criticism will be severely punished by those in charge of the nation state. . eventually the punishments will become so severe that a rebellion will result but until then..

  21. john wilson
    October 29, 2019 at 06:04

    Its only a matter of time before the ‘state’ comes after all alternative media because any challenge to the deep state and even the ‘open government’ is becoming a real threat. Millions of people now go on line for their news and analysis of political events. The ugly ‘state’ is now struggling to contain their lies and what with alternative media together with RT, Sputnik and the billions of high quality cameras on smart phones, the instantaneous internet, the state is beginning to to be exposed on even the smallest of their lies. Like all criminal thugs, the ‘state’ is taking ever more extreme measures to silence the voice that exposes their corruption and lies.

  22. michael
    October 29, 2019 at 05:51

    Since March 2015, with Obama’s ongoing National Emergency with sanctions against Venezuela, America has been at war with the present regime. The military has so far been held back, but you can be sure the CIA is doing horrific things all over Venezuela, as they now control foreign policy in the US and are spreading into domestic politics as well.
    Leaving someone like Trump with seven wars and eight ongoing National Emergencies with sanctions against uncooperative nations just shows the acerbic sense of humor of the Norwegians who give out the Nobel Peace Prize. And even if Trump were predisposed to end some of these conflicts, he will not be allowed to interfere with the Bush/ Clinton/ Obama/ CIA agendas (the #resistance!)

    • mary
      October 29, 2019 at 11:47

      We all have to recognize that the US is a rogue state on the international scene, not the ‘benevolent empire’ it set itself up as.
      I believe that Russia will be Venezuela’s salvation…but who will protect the US journalists from the Evil Empire??

  23. Antiwar7
    October 29, 2019 at 03:44

    In a land of corrupt, snarky “journalists”, real journalists are rare and stick out like sore thumbs, all the easier to persecute them.

  24. ML
    October 29, 2019 at 02:45

    This is beyond alarming. What can we do to help Max, Mr. Lauria or Mr. Norton? Is there anything you know of that could assist him or who to write or call to protest this ridiculous injustice?

  25. bardamu
    October 29, 2019 at 00:48

    The government has gathered courage with the relative lack of substantial response to other persecution of journalists.

    • john wilson
      October 29, 2019 at 06:15

      Bardamu: There has been a huge response to the persecution of those who expose government lies and corruption. The trouble is the ‘state’ now controls all media including print media, and they just deny any kind of wrong doing and mock any challenge. Even in the face of obvious evidence the government’s media just derides anyone who produces factual material and call them “conspiracy theorists”. Trump’s latest comment about protecting Syrian oil is just one instance as in the OPCW false reports about chemical weapons. The state is fast taking over the net and starting to silence sites like this one. You have seen nothing yet.

    • AnneR
      October 29, 2019 at 09:06

      I would question the statement “relative lack of substantial response to the persecution of journalists.” Where has there been any response other than to either ignore the persecution entirely or (usually also and) tar with them lies?

      The MSM on both sides of the Atlantic have only ever tarred Assange with untruths and exaggerations, most usually while he was in the Ecuadorian embassy. Since he has been in prison – the UK equivalent of a super-max- Gitmo – and deliberately psychologically tortured by both the UK and US – nothing has been mentioned of him in the MSM (aside from the occasional repetition of the calumnies), especially the visual and audio MSM.

      Almost the same could be said about the treatment of Aussie journalists a month or so ago and the reportage on that.

      And that doesn’t raise the issue of the continuing dreadful treatment of Manning who refuses to testify about her whistle-blowing and most particularly Assange’s role in exposing what she revealed at a Grand Jury hearing. There has been zero “interest” on her situation on either the BBC World Service or NPR – both government funded and controlled media (yes NPR/PBS are both also corporate funded, often via foundations, and to a much lesser extent “subscriber” funded, but those corporations – i.e. the upper 10%ers – and individual members of them have far greater influence over what is covered and what ignored than any ordinary subscriber).

      The vast majority of the so-called journalists/reporters, whether print, audio or visual, working for the MSM, all hold pretty much the same view – groupthink. At least that is what it would seem to be true. I do not believe that most are simply reporting what and how they are told to.

      As for Max Blumenthal – his experience shows, as does Julian Assange’s, that the truth and revealing it to the public is a very dangerous enterprise. I was going to add “these days.” But is that in fact true? It may be truer today than say 20 years ago, but I suspect that to some extent it has not, since the early 20th century at least, been completely safe to counter the establishment propaganda with the truth.

      Best of wishes to Max and to his and the Grayzone’s future and future safety.

Comments are closed.