Sat, 09 Dec 2023

The comedian thanked fans for their support in his first comments since sexual assault allegations were made public last week

Actor and comedian Russell Brand has said the British government is attempting to silence him, in his first statement since a string of sexual assault allegations were published by UK media last Saturday.

"By now you're probably aware that the British government have asked Big Tech platforms to censor our online content and that some online platforms have complied with that request," Brand said in a video statement released late on Friday on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Rumble.

The performer was demonetized by YouTube earlier this week following the publication of a years-long investigation by The Times, Sunday Times and broadcaster Channel 4 into claims of sexual misconduct and rape. Brand denies all allegations.

"It's clear that these [mainstream media organizations] collaborate in constructing narratives," Brand further alleged in the more than three-minute video. "Whether it's about the war or the pandemic, and of course there are other examples. It's very clear to me that we have to be very, very cautious indeed."

His blacklisting from YouTube occurred in the "context of the online safety bill," legislation, Brand said, which "grants sweeping surveillance and censorship powers." The bill has passed through parliament but has not received royal assent, in which the British monarch formally approves legislation, so it is not yet enshrined in UK law.

Brand's allegations of a government-backed campaign of censorship against him comes days after Chris Pavlovski, CEO of video streaming platform Rumble, issued an open letter in response to what he referred to as a "deeply inappropriate" enquiry from UK lawmaker Caroline Dinenage. The Conservative MP had asked if Rumble intended to follow YouTube in removing Brand's ability to generate income from content published on the website.

"Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company's values and mission," Pavlovski wrote. It has been estimated that Brand earned about Pound 1 million ($1.2 million) per year from YouTube prior to his suspension.

Brand added in the video that Rumble had demonstrated a "clear commitment to free speech" and that he intends to continue to discuss "deep state and corporate collusion" on the platform.

He made no direct mention of the allegations against him, other than to thank supporters for "questioning the information you are being presented with" during what he called an "extraordinary and distressing week."


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