A video interview with a captured prisoner of war from Newark has been removed by Facebook and YouTube after an appeal from his family, with the Prime Minister criticising him being “paraded” in front of cameras by a pro-Kremlin ‘journalist’.
Aiden Aslin, 28, a former care worker from Newark, is being held in detention by Russian soldiers following a surrender in the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, where he was serving as a marine in the defence effort against Russia.
He and fellow Brit, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, were shown on Russian state television earlier this month asking for the UK government’s help in releasing them as part of a prisoner exchange, before Aslin was ‘interviewed‘ by a British independent filmmaker called Graham Phillips.
Phillips is renowned for spreading pro-Kremlin conspiracy theories, including the labelling of a massacre, which saw 500 civilians killed in Bucha, as a hoax.
He is also a former correspondent on Russia Today and has received a medal from the country’s security agency for his ‘coverage’, as well as being banned from Ukraine in 2014.
The interview saw Phillips taunt Aslin over a potential death penalty sentence for being a “mercenary”, and Aiden’s family slammed the video as “Kremlin propaganda” after it was spread across the internet.
Aiden has not been seen since the video emerged online on Monday, April 18, with increasing concerns for his and fellow prisoner of war Shaun Pinner’s safety while being held captive. Russian authorities said last week they are both being looked after.
The video was taken down from YouTube after an appeal in the House of Commons by Newark MP Robert Jenrick, who called for online media companies to remove the “flagrant violation” of the Geneva Convention.
These calls were then followed by an appeal from Aiden Aslin’s family for the video to be removed from Facebook, after it was circulated on the social media website.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared on TalkTV to confirm the video had been taken down from Facebook, thanking Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and former Deputy PM Nick Clegg, who is the Vice President of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company Meta, for their handling of the matter.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 26, 2022
The Prime Minister also did not rule out the possibility of a potential prisoner of war swap with pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is being held in Ukraine, but said he could not pre-empt the decisions that would be made by Ukrainian leaders.
However, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov says Russia is not negotiating about the exchange of Viktor Medvedchuk.
Meanwhile, self proclaimed journalist Graham Phillips, who conducted the interview with Aslin, has criticised YouTube for the removal of his video, which he has since uploaded on a separate platform.
He also reserved frustration for Twitter, as his account was issued with a permanent suspension on Wednesday, April 27 for a violation of the social media outlet’s terms of service, specifically against hateful conduct.
He is currently back in Mariupol for what looks to be another of his ‘documentaries’, and he is tracking progress on his verified Facebook page, which many have suggested should be de-platformed like his Twitter profile.
In a rather interesting set of events, Graham has referred to Aiden as a prisoner of war on multiple occasions in recent days, despite his consistent ‘reporting’ of him being a “mercenary”.