May 22, 2024

Great Britain

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Police officers photographed from the rear in front of large apartment buildings.
Police officers stood outside several apartment buildings damaged after a drone attack in Moscow on Tuesday. Credit…Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A day after a drone strike on Moscow, Kremlin officials jumped on the refusal of Ukrainian allies to denounce the attack as proof that Russia’s real war was with the West.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said Russia “would have preferred to hear at least some words of condemnation” from Western capitals.

“We will calmly and deliberately think how to deal with this,” he said.

While none of Ukraine’s allies went so far as to endorse the drone attack, Britain’s foreign secretary said on Tuesday that Kyiv had “the right to project force beyond its borders.”

The U.S. response was more circumspect, but it stopped short of criticizing the first military strike to hit civilian areas in the Russian capital since the start of the war. Ukraine officials have said they were not “directly involved” in the drone strike.

From the outset of the conflict, Russia has portrayed the invasion of Ukraine as a defensive war provoked by the West, and on Wednesday it seized on the attack.

Dmitri A. Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s national security council and a former president, said Britain “de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia” by providing Ukraine with military aid and called it “our eternal enemy.”

Known since the war began for staking out extreme positions, Mr. Medvedev argued that now any British official “can be considered as a legitimate military target.”


A man sitting at a desk in front of papers, next to a flag.
Dmitri A. Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s national security council, accused Britain of “leading an undeclared war against Russia.”Credit…Ekaterina Shtukina/Sputnik

The Russian ambassador in Washington, Anatoly Antonov, called the U.S. refusal to condemn the attack “an encouragement for Ukrainian terrorists,” his embassy said on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia has repeatedly hit civilian areas of Ukraine over the course of the war, though it has denied targeting nonmilitary sites. And in recent weeks it has turned up the barrage of missiles and attack drones aimed at Kyiv, the capital. Thousands of Ukrainian civilians, including children, have been killed in Russian airstrikes and artillery bombardments, U.N. officials say.

Though the drone strike on Tuesday was unusual, it was not the first one on Russian soil since the war began. Drones have hit military air bases deep inside Russia, as well as an oil facility near an airfield in the province of Kursk. And this month, drones exploded over the Kremlin.

The incursions continued on Wednesday, when, the Russian authorities said, Ukrainian drones attacked two oil refineries in the region of Krasnodar. They also said that four people had been injured by shelling in the border region of Belgorod.

Russia has long accused the West of waging a proxy war against it. Those claims grew louder this month when a group of Ukraine-based Russian paramilitary members staged a multiday raid in Russia’s Belgorod border region — apparently with U.S. armored vehicles.

A New York Times analysis found that at least three of what appeared to be American-made MRAPs had been part of the attack. A leader of one of the groups claimed the weapons had not been provided by the Ukrainian military.


Damaged armored military vehicles stand in mud after a fight.
The aftermath of a cross-border raid in Russia’s Belgorod region last week. The image was released by the Russian military.Credit…Russian Defense Ministry Press Service

Russian officials have said that NATO’s decision to send weapons, which have become increasingly advance as the war has worn on, raises the risk of a direct confrontation and a potential nuclear war.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir V. Putin also made an oblique reference to this threat, calling the drone strike on Moscow an attempt “to create a response reaction from Russia.” He accused unspecified forces of trying to sabotage a Ukrainian nuclear plant occupied by Russia or to use “a type of a dirty bomb related to the nuclear industry.”

Although Western governments initially focused their military support for Ukraine on bolstering its defenses, over time, the desire to hasten an end the war has led to growing deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv.

Tensions between Moscow and Western capitals have worsened since the invasion, as have the economic sanctions imposed on Russia as penalty.


The Russian president standing in an office with flags.
President Vladimir V. Putin said the drone strike in Moscow was an attempt “to create a response reaction from Russia.”Credit…Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik

At a security conference on Wednesday in Slovakia, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, said that Western allies must give Ukraine “tangible and credible” security guarantees in its battle against Russia.

“If we want a credible, durable peace, if we want to hold our own against Russia, if we want to be credible with the Ukrainians, we must give Ukraine the means to prevent any new aggression and to include Ukraine in any new security architecture,” he said in a speech.

Mr. Macron was criticized early in the war over his insistence on not antagonizing Russia, but his approach toward Mr. Putin has hardened. He also expressed regret that France and other Western European countries had failed to heed warnings from countries on the European Union’s eastern edge about Russian belligerence.

On Wednesday, Germany said it had ordered four of the five Russian Consulates in the country to close after Moscow limited the number of German diplomatic staff allowed in Russia, the latest in an escalating tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry was told to start shutting down its consulates in Germany immediately and to finish by the end of the year, said Christofer Burger, a spokesman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry.

One Russian Consulate and the Russian Embassy in Berlin will be allowed to remain open.

In Sweden, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken met with European officials on Wednesday to discuss trade and technology issues, cracking down on exports that could aid Russia.

On Thursday, Mr. Blinken is scheduled to meet with NATO foreign ministers to discuss the alliance summit planned for July, as well as the war in Ukraine and the prospects for Swedish membership in the alliance.

A woman wearing black stands next a river surrounded by trees.

Inside the Financial Times newsroom this winter, one of its star investigative reporters, Madison Marriage, had a potentially explosive scoop involving another newspaper.

A prominent left-wing columnist, Nick Cohen, had resigned from Guardian News & Media, and Ms. Marriage had evidence that his departure followed years of unwanted sexual advances and groping of female journalists.

Ms. Marriage specialized in such investigations. She won an award for exposing a handsy black-tie event for Britain’s business elite. A technology mogul got indicted on rape charges after another article.

But her investigation on Mr. Cohen, which she hoped would begin a broader look at sexual misconduct in the British news media, was never published. The Financial Times’ editor, Roula Khalaf, killed it, according to interviews with a dozen Financial Times journalists.

It was not spiked because of reporting problems. Two women were willing to speak openly, and Ms. Marriage had supporting documentation on others. Rather, Ms. Khalaf said that Mr. Cohen did not have a big enough business profile to make him an “F.T. story,” colleagues said.

Mr. Cohen’s departure and the death of Ms. Marriage’s article offer a window into the British news media’s complicated relationship with the #MeToo movement. Leading American newsrooms — Fox News, CNN, NBC, The New York Times and others — have confronted misconduct allegations. British journalism has seen no such reckoning.

For Lucy Siegle, the death of the Financial Times article hit especially hard. In 2018, she had reported Mr. Cohen to The Guardian for groping her in the newsroom, but nothing had happened. Now it seemed the whole industry was protecting itself.

“It just amplified this sense that #MeToo is nothing but a convenient hashtag for the British media,” Ms. Siegle said. “The silence on its own industry is just really conspicuous.”

The British news media is smaller and cozier than its American counterpart, with journalists often coming from the same elite schools. Stringent libel laws present another hurdle. And in a traditional newsroom culture of drinking and gender imbalances, many stories of misconduct go untold, or face a fight.

In July 2016, for example, The Daily Mail reported that a court had granted a domestic violence restraining order against a former Financial Times executive, Ben Hughes. The article vanished from the internet without explanation.

Then, in 2019, The Sun reported that a former Guardian executive, David Pemsel, had sent messages to a former employee, pestering her for a sexual relationship. After he complained, the newspaper apologized and, though it did not say the article was inaccurate, deleted it.

In an email, Ms. Marriage said she could not comment on “F.T. decision-making” and referred questions to a spokeswoman for the newspaper, who would not comment on internal discussions. “Some reporting leads to published stories,” the spokeswoman said, “and some not.” Ms. Khalaf did not respond to requests for comment.

A close-up portrait of a man.
Mr. Cohen was seen as someone with influence, former colleagues said.Credit…Marco Secchi/Getty Images

Mr. Cohen spent two decades as a columnist for The Observer, The Guardian’s Sunday sister paper. He won a prestigious award for writing about right-wing politics in the run-up to Brexit. His book “What’s Left” was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, Britain’s top political journalism award. Inside the newsroom, he was seen as influential, colleagues said, someone who could help your career.

His resignation in January cited “health grounds.” Secretly, the newspaper group paid him a financial settlement for quitting and agreed to confidentiality, according to three colleagues and an editor with whom Mr. Cohen spoke.

In his farewell, editors praised his “brilliant” and “incisive” coverage.

Seven women told The New York Times that Mr. Cohen had groped them or made other unwanted sexual advances over nearly two decades. Four insisted on anonymity, fearing professional repercussions. In each case, The Times reviewed documents or otherwise corroborated their accounts.

Ms. Siegle recounted Mr. Cohen grabbing her bottom in the newsroom around 2001. Five other women described similar encounters at pubs from 2008 to 2015. One said Mr. Cohen had pressed his erection against her thigh and kissed her uninvited when they met to discuss her career. A seventh said Mr. Cohen had repeatedly offered to send her explicit photographs in 2018 while she worked as an unpaid copy editor for him.

Mr. Cohen’s reputation was widely known in the newsroom, according to 10 former colleagues, both male and female. One former colleague said she and other female journalists had used a different entrance to a pub to avoid being groped by him. Another woman said she had avoided the bar downstairs from the newsroom after Mr. Cohen grabbed her knee during work drinks.

“There is so much sexism in a lot of British newspapers, and it seems, unfortunately, that many women believed sexual harassment was something you just had to put up with,” said Heather Brooke, an investigative journalist who told The Times that Mr. Cohen had groped her at an awards ceremony in 2008, before she had a high profile.

Guardian News & Media did investigate Mr. Cohen, but only after Ms. Siegle wrote on Twitter in 2021 about her experience.

Even then, it was a story that few in the British news media wanted to tell. The Guardian signed a confidentiality agreement with Mr. Cohen. The Financial Times spiked its story. Even the investigative magazine Private Eye did not cover his departure. When a reader emailed asking why, the editor replied: “Coverage of Nick Cohen’s departure from The Observer is obviously more problematic for The Eye than the others that you mention due to the fact that he used to write a freelance column for the magazine.”

Mr. Cohen’s departure got a mention only in The Press Gazette, a media trade website.

In a phone interview, Mr. Cohen said he did not have the “faintest idea” about Ms. Siegle’s accusation and questioned why she had waited so long to report it. He said the conversation with the copy editor was “joking” among friends. He blamed their accusations on a campaign by his critics, including advocates for Russia and for transgender rights.

Informed that seven women had come forward with sexual misconduct complaints, Mr. Cohen exclaimed, “Oh, God.”

“I assume it’s stuff I was doing when I was drunk,” said Mr. Cohen, a recovering alcoholic.

In a subsequent email, Mr. Cohen did not respond to specific accusations. “I have written at length about my alcoholism. I went clean seven years ago in 2016,” he said. “I look back on my addicted life with deep shame.”

Many of the women and their colleagues were especially disappointed in The Guardian because of its extensive #MeToo reporting. One week before Ms. Siegle’s complaint in 2018, it solicited tips about workplace sexual harassment.

“We take all allegations of workplace harassment extremely seriously and aim to support victims in all circumstances,” a Guardian News & Media spokesman said in a statement. “We have processes which anyone can use to raise complaints so that they can be fully investigated.”

The company did not respond to specific instances identified by The Times. It said that only Ms. Siegle had complained to senior managers about Mr. Cohen, and that she had chosen not to pursue the complaint — something she denies. As soon as Ms. Siegle went public, the company said, it opened an investigation.

Mr. Cohen left the newspaper and told The Times that he had accepted a deal after considering the financial implications for his family, in particular his son who has autism.

“I’m the only person whose life is turned over because of this,” he said.

The #MeToo movement was sweeping through society on Feb. 1, 2018, when Ms. Siegle met with The Guardian’s managing editor, Jan Thompson, to report her experiences with Mr. Cohen.

Ms. Siegle had started at The Guardian around 2001 as an editorial assistant. She described standing at a photocopier when Mr. Cohen appeared behind her, cupped her bottom with both hands, grunted and breathed heavily into her ear.

Ms. Siegle remembers returning to her desk, humiliated. She never considered reporting him. “I’m literally the least powerful person in the entire newsroom,” she said.

For 14 years, as she advanced at The Observer, she said she avoided his desk and chaperoned interns “like a mother hen crossing a busy road.”

At the Feb. 1 meeting, Ms. Siegle said Ms. Thompson responded by talking about the abuse that Mr. Cohen faced for his political views, according to notes Ms. Siegle wrote afterward. She described the meeting as a “chaotic mess of defensiveness and attack.”

The Guardian spokesman said Ms. Siegle, who was by then a freelancer for the newspaper, had opted not to pursue her complaint. Ms. Siegle says an investigation was never offered. A week after the meeting, Ms. Thompson emailed to let Ms. Siegle know that she was “here if you want to discuss further.” Ms. Siegle declined.

In interviews, former Observer and Guardian managers said they knew Mr. Cohen had a drinking problem but could not remember anyone reporting sexual misconduct. “In a way, I’m puzzled,” said Chris Elliott, a former managing editor of both papers. “Because I should have heard something about it on the grapevine.

Jean Hannah Edelstein, an assistant at The Observer from 2007 to 2009, said Mr. Cohen was not alone in his behavior. She recalled her editor hitting her with a sex whip as she walked by. Over one boozy lunch, she said, the same editor offered to help her career and suggested that she pose naked to promote her book.

Several journalists said Mr. Cohen’s reputation for groping was far from secret, and five women said he had groped them after work at pubs, including one who said he had groped her “five or six” times in 2008.

Another woman, a freelance journalist who had recently been homeless and had depression, said she had met Mr. Cohen at a pub in 2010 to discuss her career. As they chatted, she said, he suddenly kissed her on the mouth and pressed his erection against her thigh. She said she fled.

“I just remember walking along Waterloo Bridge and thinking, ‘I can’t go to The Guardian with this. Who would they believe?’” she said. “He was one of their stars, and I was a freelance journalist with mental health issues.”

Ms. Brooke, the investigative journalist, said she had initially dismissed her encounter with Mr. Cohen at the 2008 awards ceremony as “a one-off drunken mistake and didn’t take it further.” (“Nick Cohen got drunk and slapped my ass … ugh!” she wrote in her diary the next day.)

But she said that “now I know that this is a pattern of behavior over 20 years. I think it’s really important to speak out.”

A woman sits at a desk with two screens in a room with dark blue walls and strands of white Christmas lights.
Rebecca Watson, a writer and commentator, at her home in Oakland, Calif. Ms. Watson said that Mr. Cohen groped her at a book party in 2009.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Rebecca Watson, a writer and commentator, said Mr. Cohen had grabbed her bottom at a book party in 2009. Her now-former husband said he had witnessed it but did not confront Mr. Cohen because he did not want to cause a scene.

“To sexually assault a stranger at a book launch, to be one of the more prominent people there, and to just assume there will be no comeuppance,” Ms. Watson said.

Not long after Ms. Siegle lodged her 2018 complaint with The Guardian, records show that Mr. Cohen began working with a freelance copy editor, a single mother with autism.

She worked remotely for Mr. Cohen, unpaid. On June 29, 2018, a work conversation over direct messages on Twitter became punctuated with mutually flirtatious jokes. Mr. Cohen offered to send an explicit photograph. The woman declined. Mr. Cohen persisted and she deflected again.

In the following days, the copy editor said, Mr. Cohen turned cold. In messages, she apologized if she had misread the situation. Eventually, she told him continuing to work together “would be at a cost too high for my own mental health.”

Mr. Cohen, in his email to The Times, said this was the only accusation to surface since he quit drinking and said it had been misrepresented. “It involves a friendship with a woman I never met that, sadly, went badly wrong,” he said.

In 2019, the copy editor asked The Guardian’s human resources team about the process for raising sexual misconduct claims, emails show. She described the incident without naming Mr. Cohen, saying she felt “huge pressure” to go along with his “banter.”

Because she was not a Guardian employee, the copy editor said she was told that she would not be informed of the investigation’s outcome. Being frozen out of the process terrified her, so she backed off.

In fall 2021, Ms. Siegle wrote on Twitter about her experience. Her lawyer, Jolyon Maugham, began making noise. Ms. Thompson immediately emailed.

“Given that you have now tweeted publicly,” Ms. Thompson wrote, “I hope that it means that your position has now changed, and that you would be willing to provide further information so that we can investigate the matter fully.”

Ms. Siegle said that was misleading, that The Guardian had not offered to investigate in 2018.

Eventually, Mr. Cohen was suspended and The Guardian hired a law firm to carry out an independent inquiry. Neither Ms. Siegle nor the copy editor agreed to participate.

A red-brick building with an ornate entrance.
The Financial Times building in London. The newspaper spiked an investigation into Nick Cohen, a columnist at The Observer. Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Mr. Cohen confirmed that he signed an agreement to leave the newspaper, but would not discuss the terms.

Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, said he had discussed the terms of The Guardian’s deal with Mr. Cohen, who no longer writes for Private Eye. “Instead of any conclusion,” Mr. Hislop said of the Guardian investigation, “it ended up with a secret agreement and a big cash payment.”

In December 2022, the Financial Times editor, Ms. Khalaf, emailed the newsroom about the coming year’s priorities. Among them were Ms. Marriage’s investigations into abuses of power.

Publicly, the newspaper had declared “no topic or scandal off limits.” Privately, there were limits.

Ms. Marriage had already begun investigating Mr. Cohen and sexual misconduct across the British news media, but Ms. Khalaf shackled the investigation, telling Ms. Marriage not to contact any new sources, according to two colleagues with whom Ms. Marriage spoke. Her team had already interviewed five of Mr. Cohen’s accusers.

In February, Ms. Khalaf said she would not run the investigation as a news article, several journalists recalled, and suggested that Ms. Marriage file it as an opinion piece. She did, but it still did not run.

A half-dozen Financial Times journalists said they saw it as part of a wider reluctance to expose bad behavior within its industry.

The Financial Times, like others, has wrestled with gender issues. In June 2020, 56 female staff members wrote to Ms. Khalaf about a “bro culture” that excluded women from decision-making.

A search of a reservoir in Portugal that came more than 16 years after the British girl went missing resulted in the collection of some material but did not solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Portuguese police have said material unearthed from a reservoir in Algarve will be sent to Germany for analysis after the first major search for Madeleine McCann in a decade came to a close.

After three days of excavation on a spit of land jutting into the Barragem do Arade reservoir in south Portugal, officers were stood down and a spokesperson for the Polícia Judiciária said the collected material would be delivered to the German authorities.

German prosecutor Christian Wolters said: “Of course we are still looking for the body. We’re not just looking for that, of course. There are other things too. Any discovery of clothing could help our investigation.”

The search had been requested by the German authorities who are seeking to prove the case that Christian Brückner, 45, a convicted rapist, killed Madeleine, who was three years old when she went missing from her parents’ holiday apartment in the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz in 2007.

The operation, completed by the Portuguese and German officers but with Metropolitan police officers in attendance, had involved clearing a number of areas on a bank on the reservoir.

One 10-metre squared patch of land appeared to have been the focus of the investigation. The slope of the bank had been cleared of wood and cut into. A series of deep pot holes had been scoured into the ground and soil samples had evidently been removed.

There were signs of past human habitation including a rusting chair and a blue suitcase. have only said that “indications” and “tips” led them to seek the search but it has been suggested that photographs found in 2016 had provided evidence that Brückner had regularly visited the reservoir which he is said to have described as “my little paradise”.

Kate and Gerry McCann, who had been eating a tapas meal within eyesight of their holiday apartment when their daughter disappeared on 4 May 2007, now face a tense wait for the results.

Wolters, whose force requested the operation, said there would be a period of silence.

Wolters said that as the accused had not yet had access to the files, the authorities would not yet publish any new evidence that might implicate Brückner, a German national who was the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Holes dug for soil samples in the area where authorities have searched for Madeleine McCann.
Holes dug for soil samples in the area where authorities have searched for Madeleine McCann. Photograph: Daniel Boffey/The Guardian

A spokesperson for the Polícia Judiciária said: “The steps requested by the German authorities, through a request for international cooperation, have been fulfilled, which resulted in the collection of some material that will be subject to the competent expertise.

“The operation was coordinated by the judiciary police, which involved investigators, criminal experts and security personnel. Safeguarding the interests of the investigation still under way in Portugal, the collected material will be delivered to the German authorities.”

The operation was the biggest search for a decade into the then three-year-old’s disappearance. It had been due to end on Tuesday but it had taken an additional day to complete the planned work.

Wolters said they had a search warrant for a specific area, which had to be searched in its entirety. He said: “If we don’t find anything, we will certainly tell you quickly.”

There was no further statement on Thursday. The site of the search was 30 miles from where Madeleine went missing 16 years ago.

The former Portuguese detective Gonçalo Amaral, who led the botched Portuguese investigation in 2007, claimed it was a waste of resources and a sham.

Amaral, who successfully fought a defamation case in 2016 after claiming Madeleine died in her parents’ holiday apartment, predicted it would come to nothing.

“In a simple analysis I see there is no new investigation and what is occurring is more a case of constructing a profile and a scapegoat,” he said. Amaral lost a libel battle with lawyers representing Kate and Gerry McCann after publication of his book but he subsequently had the result overturned on appeal.

German police have been keen to emphasise that their chief suspect had not confessed nor offered any help as they swept the area.

Brückner, who was jailed in 2019 for the rape of a 72-year-old American tourist a mile from the McCanns’ holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, was officially named by the Portuguese police as a suspect, or arguido, last year in the disappearance of the British child.

His mobile phone’s signal had been located in the immediate area of the Mark Warner Oceans resort where the McCanns had been staying on the day of Madeleine’s disappearance. He has not been charged with any offence in relation to Madeleine’s case, and has denied any involvement.

Last month, a German court said it was cancelling a sexual offences trial against Brückner on charges unrelated to McCann’s disappearance but which were also said to have taken place in Portugal, on the grounds that the region where it is located is not the last place he lived in Germany.

He had been facing prosecution in Braunschweig over three offences of aggravated rape of women and two offences of sexual abuse of children. The alleged offences took place in Portugal between December 2000 and July 2017. The force in Braunschweig is challenging the ruling.

Mark Hofmann, a criminal profiler in Germany, said Brückner, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence, had a history of keeping “trophies” from his crimes. He said: “From chat histories with like-minded people and from other crimes it is known that Christian B tends to do exactly this: documenting his crimes.”

The free press is under attack from multiple forces. Media outlets are closing their doors, victims to a broken business model. In much of the world, journalism is morphing into propaganda, as governments dictate what can and can’t be printed. In the last year alone, hundreds of reporters have been killed or imprisoned for doing their jobs. The UN reports that 85% of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country in recent years.

As you join us today from India we hope you will consider supporting us in our efforts to do something about this. Despite the financial challenges plaguing the media industry, we’ve decided to keep our journalism paywall-free, because we believe everyone has the right to high-quality, fact-checked reporting. And we maintain our independence thanks to generosity from readers all over the world, who understand that supporting the free press is an investment in an informed and empowered public.

Unlike many others, we have no billionaire owner – this helps us maintain the freedom to fearlessly chase the truth and report it with integrity. Your support will allow us to continue to work with trademark determination and passion to bring you journalism that’s always free from commercial or political interference.