In a bizarre video, an American trans spokesman for the Ukrainian government, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, announced the capture of essayist and vlogger Gonzalo Lira by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) today:
⚡️ Apparently as an official Ukraine spokesperson, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo made a bizarre video implying that we haven’t heard from Gonzalo Lira because he was captured by the SBU trying to escape into Hungary pic.twitter.com/fdm1PAfRC0
— What the media hides. (@narrative_hole) August 2, 2023
The recent ordeal of Chilean-American blogger Gonzalo Lira serves as a frightening testament to the dangers faced by those who dare to voice dissenting opinions. In May, the SBU took Lira into custody, alleging pro-Russian sentiments. Lira’s return online this Monday and his subsequent revelations underscore the escalating threats to freedom of expression in different parts of the world.
Lira highlighted his arrest on May 1, ostensibly due to his YouTube videos and specifically for “making videos critical of the West and their proxy regime in Kiev” and shedding light on “how they are destroying Ukraine.”
Regarding his charges, he stated, “My indictment explicitly states that all I did was discuss publicly known facts about the war – the epitome of free speech in a democracy.” He further commented on the political climate, asserting, “But Zelensky’s Ukraine is no democracy – it is a thieving, corrupt, murderous gangster regime PRETENDING to be a polite ‘western’ democracy.”
Lira detailed in his online communication that, while detained, he faced abhorrent treatment by fellow inmates in two out of the four cells he was confined to. Alarmingly, it was implied that such torture within SIZO prison was not just tacitly permitted but effectively outsourced to the inmates.
He recounted several horrifying episodes, such as sustaining a broken rib — a physical scar among many. A particularly harrowing experience in another cell saw inmates inflicting psychological terror, threatening his ability to see by scratching at the white of his left eye, thus invoking fear of losing his vision.
Highlighting the systemic issues further, it came to light that one of those inflicting harm on Lira faced reprimand, not for the act of violence itself, but for leaving visible evidence of the brutality – a testament to the calculated nature of these egregious actions.
Lira, utilizing the very platforms for which he was targeted, showcased documents indicating his detention’s purported reasons. Seemingly, his detention was rooted in his online presence, particularly a video titled Ukraine: An Introduction. In it, Lira objectively discussed the ongoing conflict with Russia, but the mere act of suggesting Kiev might have played a provocative role seems to have stirred the hornet’s nest.
Disturbingly, Lira’s treatment appeared to be an attempt by the SBU to extort him for around $100,000 when considering the confiscated devices (computers, cell phone, etc.).
In the shadow of an impending trial where a verdict and a year-long imprisonment in a labor camp seemed predetermined, Lira chose the path of escape, seeking the sanctuary of Hungary. As he approached the final barrier to what he hoped would be freedom, he shared his plight, signaling that silence might indicate his re-capture.
“Right now, I’m about to try to get out of Ukraine, and seek political asylum in Hungary,” Lira tweeted. “Either I’ll cross the border and make it to safety, or I’ll be disappeared by the Kiev regime.”
While Lira expressed gratitude towards the Chilean embassy for their intervention, the response of the US embassy was less than satisfactory. Sparse communication and seeming inaction, coupled with suspicions of potential extradition back to Ukraine, paint a disheartening picture.
As Lira himself tweeted, “And the US State Department would return me too. I’m not a black lesbian druggie, or a transgender grifter. Besides, Victoria Nuland hates my guts, or so I’m told. I’m hoping the Hungarians will read my indictment and say, ‘This is bullshit—we’re not sending him back.’”
To cap the saga, Lira’s initial detention in April 2022 by the SBU, and his subsequent release after a week seemingly due to public pressure, stands as a stark reminder: the struggle for free speech is an ongoing battle, and the world must remain vigilant.
You can access the complete Twitter thread in which Lira narrates his ordeal here.