Not notable enough? UN torture rapporteur who defended Assange gets rejected by Twitter for verification

Not notable enough? UN torture rapporteur who defended Assange gets rejected by Twitter for verification

Twitter apparently never heard of the UN special rapporteur for torture Nils Melzer – an outspoken defender of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, among others – since it denied his verification request, saying he wasn’t notable enough.

“Seriously?” Melzer tweeted on Wednesday, posting a screenshot of the message he received from Twitter’s Verification service saying that “the evidence provided did not meet our criteria for notability.”

“I am an official international mandate holder of [UN special procedures experts] appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, with an official webpage @UNHumanRights & countless publications & public appearances. “How (on earth) does that ‘not meet your criteria for notability’?” he fulminated.

One of the screenshots Melzer provided was of his UN biography page, which lists his extensive employment history, publications and notable UN work. The Swiss scholar has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since November 2016.

As such, he has repeatedly spoken out about the illegal imprisonment of Assange, the WikiLeaks co-founder who spent years trapped in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. After being stripped of his asylum and dragged out of the embassy in April 2019, Assange was sent to the Belmarsh prison outside London, where he has been held in de facto solitary confinement ever since, pending US demands to have him extradited on spurious “hacking” charges.

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Melzer has also sought to protect the human rights of peaceful protesters, such as an elderly German woman whom a viral video showed being brutalized by police in Berlin, during an anti-lockdown protest earlier this month.

None of this seemed to matter to Twitter, which told Melzer in what appeared to be a form letter that they “could not reliably verify that the account associated with the request is a notable person, organization, or brand.” The San Francisco-based platform urged him to try again in 30 days.

However, last week Twitter announced it was pausing the verification process to “make improvements to the application and review process,” so they can “get things right.”

Why Melzer got the form letter questioning his notability if this pause has been in effect since August 13, or why he was advised to try again before the verification resumes, remains unclear at this time. 

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