Source: The Rakyat Post
In an open letter on Tuesday, the Sarawak Report admitted the source of its story was Xavier Andre Justo and tried to suggest that he was not a criminal
HOW far can the plethora of blogs and online postings, which increasingly contribute to what we call the media, really be trusted as credible journalism?
Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo’s recent arrest, for example, accused of blackmailing and extorting his ex-employer, PetroSaudi International, has raised questions about the credibility of allegations made on online blog Sarawak Report and other news portals.
This, in turn, has raised questions as to how rigorously non-mainstream news sources verify their information; and the extent to which they can be relied upon to filter the truth from the lies.
The 49-year-old’s arrest has further brought into focus how the reputation of any company or individual can come under unfair global scrutiny because of a misinformed online onslaught; and how many innocent Malaysians have come to be misled by a political smear campaign built on incomplete and creatively edited documents.
The inquiry of the Royal Thai Police will no doubt give us many answers in time. But one thing is clear now — blogs which rely on unverified information, including so-called “leaks”, are vulnerable to manipulation by those with their own agenda.
Exclusive reports in The New Straits Times this week have revealed some of the background of this remarkable case in which Justo had made demands for cash from his former employer in return for not selling data he had stolen to the highest bidder.
Pictures of a heavily tattooed Justo, appearing under armed guard this week, have been shown around the world as the man behind the failed blackmail and extortion plot.
Some of that data, which global IT experts Protection Group International (PGI) has confirmed was creatively selected and edited prior to publication, has appeared in Sarawak Report, causing a political storm and unfairly damaging the reputations of individuals, companies, government institutions and political figures.
The reality is that in a digital age, emails, texts, VOIP, instant messaging, tweets, blogs and a host of other apps can easily feed rumour and speculation which is sometimes created in error and sometimes created through malice or personal gain.
Whether due to a lack of resources, time or interest, the Sarawak Report published a series of damaging stories about 1Malaysia Development Berhad and PetroSaudi based on unverified digital data obtained from a source of dubious integrity — Xavier Andre Justo. Continue reading