Alex Salmond defends RT as MPs call for channel to be banned (VIDEO)
The former Scottish first minister said the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, an ex-double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, was a "heinous crime" deserving of universal condemnation. However, Theresa May’s Kremlin crackdown and the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats – labelled undeclared spies – should not include pressure to close RT, he said.
Speaking about the calls for the broadcasting regulator Ofcom to take RT off-air, Salmond said: "No one has tried to influence the content of this show in any way, shape or form whatsoever. By definition RT has not been a propaganda station because it is regulated under a UK license by Ofcom. Yes it has had breaches of the Ofcom code, but so have Sky, ITV and the BBC."
Salmond interviewed former MI5 agent Annie Machon, who said although Novichok – the Russian-developed nerve agent allegedly used to poison the Skripals – was used, it does not mean Russia was behind the attack. She highlighted the use of the VX poison used to kill the brother of Kim Jong-un in Kuala Lumpur. This was developed in Britain.
“Does this mean Britain killed him?” Machon asked. “I don’t think so.” She added: “Of course [Russia] is going to be suspect number one – it doesn’t mean… they should be convicted by public opinion and the media. There needs to be an evidential chain built up by the police, and they do need to cooperate with their Russian colleagues to try and get to the bottom of this case.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs that there was "no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable" for the attack that left Skripal, 66, and his daughter critically ill in hospital. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked for evidence and was criticized from all corners of the Commons.
Salmond continued: "To censure would make a travesty of the concept of nation speaking unto nation, a mockery of freedom of speech and it would portray an image of a country lost in self-doubt. Liberal democracies don't succeed in international confrontations by sacrificing their dearest held values – their freedom of speech.
“The UK government is totally convinced that the Russian state is involved and are therefore entitled to take a range of additional measures diplomatic and economic. Of course it is much more effective to operate in concert with friends and allies. To succeed the evidence has to be overwhelming and the case cast iron."
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