Web Summit disinvites far-left news site The Grayzone from conference on Ukrainian articles

Web Summit has disinvited the left-leaning news site The Grayzone from its upcoming conference, citing problems with the outlet’s reporting on the war on Ukraine.

The gray area was founded and is edited by American journalist and author Max Blumenthal and a description on the website says it is “dedicated to original investigative journalism and the analysis of politics and empire”.

The Gray area also says he has been “fully independent”, from sponsorship since 2018.

The website’s vocal critics denounced it for promoting authoritarian regimes and sharing pro-Russian propaganda.

The site has also published a series of articles in recent months alleging links between the upper echelons of the Ukrainian leadership and neo-Nazism.

An article was published on the Gray area on October 5, 2022, with the title: “Now you are all Azov”: an “openly neo-Nazi” Ukrainian delegation meets Congress, tours the United States”.

Meanwhile, an article from last week read, “Zelensky quietly removes photo of his bodyguard’s pro-Hitler crest.”

In a statement posted to Twitter this evening, Web Summit said it had made the decision to revoke The Grayzones invitation to the 2022 conference, to be held in Lisbon next week, after hearing “the views of our participants”.

The company also said it “stands with Ukraine and its people” and apologized for the “hurt caused”.

“The Web Summit has rescinded its invitation to Gray area for the Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon. The Web Summit has always been a platform for rigorous debate. We have stages dedicated specifically to robust dialogue on the contentious and defining issues of our time,” the statement read.

“Always, we aim to have a wide range of viewpoints represented and to have strongly contested opinions. At this time, we have listened to the advice and views of our participants. We are taking steps to remove the Gray area invitation. We understand the reaction of many to from the gray area presence in Lisbon and we are committed to addressing the crucial issues of freedom of expression and technological platforms with greater attention. We apologize for the harm caused.

“The Web Summit stands with Ukraine and its people, and we celebrate the fact that many Ukrainian speakers and participants will be with us in Lisbon. We have taken various steps to support Ukraine and its technology community throughout the war of aggression, and we will continue to do more as it continues.

In a statement to Independent.ieGrayzone founder Max Blumenthal said “powerful sources” deemed his organization incompatible with the event.

“Our cancellation has come in an atmosphere where calls for negotiation and dissent against a proxy war that is ruining European economies and bringing the West to the brink of nuclear confrontation are being ruthlessly silenced,” a- he declared.

Web Summit told Independent.ie his tweet would be the only statement he would make about it.

In 2018, Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave rescinded an invitation that had been extended to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen to speak at the conference.

Ms Le Pen’s invitation sparked outrage, notably in Portugal, which emerged from a brutal right-wing dictatorship in 1974.

In a statement posted to Twitter at the time, Mr Cosgrave said he had made the decision to rescind Ms Le Pen’s invitation “based on the advice we received and the great reaction”.

“It’s clear to me now that the right decision for @WebSummit is to cancel Marine Le Pen’s invitation,” he wrote.

“His presence is disrespectful especially to our host country. It is also disrespectful to some of the tens of thousands of participants joining us from around the world.”

The Web Summit 2022 conference runs from November 1-4.

Described as the “world’s largest technology conference”, the Web Summit was founded by entrepreneurs M. Cosgrave, Daire Hickey and David Kelly in Dublin, in 2009, with 150 attendees at the inaugural event.

Mr. Cosgrave is the CEO of the organization, while Mr. Kelly and Mr. Hickey have since resigned from the company and are embroiled in several legal cases with their former business partner.

The Web Summit moved to Lisbon from Dublin in 2016 as part of a 10-year agreement with the Portuguese government.

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