Entries in News (5)


North Korean Defector Threatened over His Reliable News Reports YORK) -- One of the most difficult places in the world to get accurate information, both for journalists and intelligence officers, is the closed and paranoid regime of North Korea.  Former North Korean intelligence official Jang Jin-Seong, who defected to the South, now runs a news site with seemingly reliable information about North Korea, and it could cost him his life.

Journalists are rarely allowed into the reclusive country, and defectors often demand money for information and stories that are frequently embellished to make them more attractive and valuable to news agencies bidding on them (ABC News has a policy of not paying for news). 

A new wave of so-called news websites, operated by North Korean defectors or South Koreans who are politically pro-North Korea, have sprung up around the Internet, pushing stories through portal sites that are later cited by major newspapers and television networks. Sensational stories, for example, on the late Kim Jong Il’s mistresses or exotic herbal medicines that kept him alive for years have become popular for Facebook posts and retweets on Twitter.  The more shocking the story, the better chance it has to run up the chain of news outlets and end up on the evening news.

But Jang Jin-Seong's website is unique, carrying stories on North Korea with surprisingly solid information.  Jin-Seong's stories use Google satellite images and quote North Korean officials who often travel to China.

“Our priority is credibility. We’ve made a point not to report unless we have verifiable information even if the story comes late,” said Jang Jin-Seong, 40, who runs the "New Focus" website. “We are very aware of lots of phony North Korea specialized websites out there.”

Jang escaped the North in 2004 after working in the Communist party’s intelligence agency. His job was to analyze South Korean society and come up with strategies to spread communist propaganda in the South. After defecting to the South, he worked the other way around taking a post in the National Intelligence Service analyzing the North.

He quit last year and started New Focus last February with two other defectors he describes as “former Pyongyang elites” and four South Korean reporters. Their consultants include computer specialists who are capable of hacking and a network of North Koreans “who are empathetic of North Korea’s dire situation and who believe their information to New Focus would help the plight of the poverty stricken nation’s future to a better off society,” Jang said.

Asked whether he manages to keep these North Korean officials to stay in the loop with financial compensation, he acknowledged that is necessary.

Jang’s major project, now almost complete, is to draw up a concise map of the North’s important locations using Google technology.

“We note where Kim Jong Il’s many state houses are, where their generals live, and where the party keeps confidential personnel or resources,” said Jang. For the first time, they have also completed the map of Pyongyang’s subway system, thanks to Google satellite.

Jang, though, fears for his life. One North Korean website that carries state news has called Jang “human waste,” a “pathetic clown” and “a liar,” threatening that his “revelation of our major locations in Pyongyang and elsewhere” would lead to a tragic death.

Jang’s answer: “I take that as a compliment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sec. of State Clinton: Al Jazeera Is 'Real News,' US Losing 'Information War'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear Wednesday that she is worried the United States is losing what she calls the “information war” abroad.

China and Russia, she says, have started English-language networks that push their message overseas and even the Taliban controls the airwaves in Afghanistan.

And in the Arab world? Al Jazeera is king, and Clinton says she can see why.

“Al Jazeera has been the leader in that [they] are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective,” she said.

“In fact viewership of al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners,” she added.

Clinton’s State Department has tried to keep up, especially on social media, where this year they have started Tweeting in Arabic, Farsi, and other languages. Secretary Clinton last week held a Web chat with a popular Egyptian site that was able to gather 6,500 questions for her in just two days.

“We are really trying to play in that arena as best we can,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Egypt: Al Jazeera Office Stormed By Protesters, Website Hacked

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- Protesters stormed Al Jazeera’s Cairo office on Friday, setting fires and damaging equipment inside the news network's Egyptian workspace.

There were no reports of injuries or fatalities.

“It appears to be the latest attempt by the Egyptian regime or its supporters to hinder Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in the country,” the network said in a press release.

Earlier Friday, the network reported that its Arabic-language website was hacked, “apparently by opponents of the pro-democracy movement.”

Al Jazeera said that for two hours a banner reading “Together for the collapse of Egypt” was displayed on its site, linking to a page criticizing the network.

“While the deliberate attacks this morning were an attempt to discredit us we will continue our impartial and comprehensive coverage of these unprecedented events,” an Al Jazeera spokesman said in a statement.

Since the anti-government protests began last month, the network has been forced to shut down its operation in the region and its journalists have had to forfeit their press credentials. Several of the network’s journalists have been arrested and released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Media Becomes a Target as Egypt Protests Turn Violent

ABC News' Christiane Amanpour trying to speak to pro-government protesters in Cairo. The encounter disintegrated into an attack on her and her cameraman, with rocks being thrown and shouts of "We hate America." Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAIRO) -- The worst clashes in a week erupted Wednesday in Cairo with pro-Mubarak mobs rushing Tahrir (Liberation) Square in an effort to wrestle the territory from the anti-government demonstrators.

It was a dynamic change. After five days of peaceful protest, suddenly it was an all-out battle. This did not look to be a spontaneous eruption. It appeared to be deliberately orchestrated political theater, planned and organized bid by pro-Mubarak forces, taking place on a stage, Tahrir Square, in full view of the world audience. It was an apparently a bid for control of the territory that anti-government demonstrators had occupied for more than a week.

Tensions erupted on a day that had begun with some improvements. The Internet was restored and curfew hours were shortened. But even Wednesday morning, before the clashes, the jubilation of the last few days had already given way to an overwhelming sense of fear about how this is now going to go.

In Tahrir Square, protesters told ABC News reporters two things. Some were saying that President Hosni Mubarak's announcement Tuesday night, in which he announced that he would not seek re-election, was not enough and that he has to go now. Others said that although they have protested against him, they want him to leave in an orderly fashion, with dignity. A majority, it seemed, were concerned that if he left quickly, the economy and institutions could collapse, resulting in an explosion of crime and violence.

If Mubarak leaves precipitously, there could be real chaos. Mubarak's party had been sending a message on state TV regarding moves to restore law and order. The army, in a new statement on television, had urged the protesters to go home, "for the love of Egypt."

Wednesday, as ABC News journalists and crew were trying to film on the bridge into Tahrir Square, an angry mob of pro-Mubarak protesters surrounded them and chased them into their car, shouting that they hated them and America. Some of the protesters kicked in the car doors and broke the windshield as the journalists drove away.  Journalists from several news outlets, including CNN's Anderson Cooper, reported being attacked by the mob of protestors.

As night fell, nobody was certain what would come next. There are fears that now the military and the people may now be headed for a showdown. The military amended its earlier request that "everyone go home." Now they have issued an order: "Leave Tahrir Square."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Air Force Blocks News Websites With WikiLeaks Materials

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At their posts around the world, airmen are no longer able to glean what’s on the front page of one of America’s most widely read newspapers, all because it has published details of classified State Department cables provided to it by WikiLeaks.

“The Air Force routinely blocks network access to websites posting inappropriate materials or malware. This includes any website hosting the classified materials released by WikiLeaks,” Maj. Toni Tones of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which controls the AFNet computer system, told ABC News.

Even access to general news articles on these websites has been blocked, Maj. Tones said, describing the action as “consistent with guidance received in August of 2010.”

Officials at the Army and Navy tell ABC News they are not enacting similar measures at this point, and were not aware of any plans to follow the Air Force’s lead.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio