On Sunday I spoke alongside Jeremy Corbyn and others at a packed meeting in Oslo to discuss freedom in the modern world, with particular reference to Julian Assange and to Guantanamo. It was a truly inspirational event.
It finished at 6.30 pm local time. The speakers were then mobbed by well-wishers and those wanting to give contact details or request campaigning help. Books were given and signed, and a great many selfies were taken. I saw Jeremy pose literally for dozens of selfies with beaming supporters.
Finally making it out of the hall and into the street, Jeremy was approached by a couple, man and wife, requesting a selfie. We then continued down the street to the hotel, for a quick wash and brush up, before leaving again for an 8pm dinner reservation.
The man who had approached Jeremy in the street with his wife turns out to have been Hans Jorgen Johansen, an obscure far right activist. He almost immediately posted his selfie with Jeremy to Facebook. As we were ordering dinner in the restaurant, arch neo-con journalist Oz Katerji was tweeting out the photo of Corbyn and the “Neo-Nazi” to the world. (No link because I have been blocked by Katerji for years).
Johansen was not a speaker at the meeting, not an organiser, and not on the platform. It is not plain if he was in the 200 strong audience at all – it was a public meeting. He approached on the street outside.
I could only find one of the Norwegians with us who had ever even heard of Johansen, who has just 6,000 followers. Yet in less than an hour of this obscure figure putting up a photo with Corbyn, it was being tweeted out by Katerji.
Now how did Katerji come so very quickly to see the Facebook page of this obscure Norwegian? I can find no evidence of Katerji ever having written anything on Norway, and none of him monitoring the far right.
Katerji’s interests very much lie elsewhere.
A former Murdoch hack, Katerji is the archetypal neo-con journalist whose every production aggressively promotes the position and interests of the security services and NATO.
Katerji first came to my attention as the most vehement of propagandists for the extreme jihadists in Syria, funded and armed of course by the US and Saudi Arabia.
There was no false flag chemical weapons attack staged by the jihadists so obvious that Katerji would not promote it, and as his beloved head choppers were beaten back by Russian forces, Katerji completely became immersed in hatred. He called me an “Islamophobe” and Edward Snowden a “full time Putin propagandist”.
Katerji’s support for Israel also became increasingly fierce and uncompromising, with anybody expressing concern for the Palestinians denounced by him as anti-semitic. He produced an entire podcast series giving the views of extreme zionist right wingers on Jeremy Corbyn.
It was therefore no surprise when, at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it turned out Katerji was safely ensconced in a pleasant Kiev flat, with some very enviable company. He has been churning out the most ludicrously biased of NATO propaganda narratives on Ukraine ever since, presumably to his personal profit.
So a highly obscure right wing extremist takes a selfie with Jeremy on an Oslo street and under an hour later it is in the possession of Oz Katerji, of all people, who tweets it out.
Not a set-up at all…
Katerji’s role in this stinks. Whether Johansen is exactly what he seems is also an open question.
The gaps in Johansen’s public cv may simply be because he is such a minor figure, but from Norwegian wikipedia it seems he took 6 years over an undergraduate economics degree from 1990 to 1996, and then in 1997 Johansen was working briefly in mining in the Philippines.
That is not an obvious move for a new Norwegian economics graduate, and the only source is his own word for it. There is then a complete gap in his cv from 1997 to 2000 before he reappears in Norway and gets into far right politics.
The key point on what happened in Oslo is of course is that this man was not a part of the event and that Corbyn had not the slightest idea who he was. That did not, however, stop the BBC, the Mail and other outlets running this ludicrous non-story to bring up more “Corbyn antisemitic” slurs.
The next morning, afer a meeting with young activists, we went for a guided tour of the Munch Museum. Despite the completely bad faith media storm created against him, as we went round the museum Jeremy, as usual, happily posed with the many ordinary people who approached him. He will always remain a good man.
In the interests of complete transparency, I should own up to a personal message exchange with John Sweeney, including a reference to Oz Katerji, at the very start of the Russian invasion, when Russian forces attempted quickly to take Kiev.
I reveal this in order to avoid the charge of hypocrisy. I was offering to help Sweeney and also Oz Katerji escape if necessary. I may disagree with or dislike somebody, that does not mean I wish them harm.
Given that John Sweeney’s part of the conversation is merely a six word rejection, I do not think I am betraying his confidence.
To extend the transparency further, the money referred to was all given two months later to help cover the financial losses of the Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival in 2022.
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