Totnes Council gave in to pressure from local anti-5G activists. Now HOPE not hate can reveal that some of the key campaigners hold dangerous and bigoted views.
HOPE not hate recently published a blog on anti-5G Facebook groups, revealing that such groups were riddled with antisemitic tropes and conspiracies. The report warned of the toxic cocktail of antisemitic and far-right influences that Facebook users were exposing themselves to by joining these groups.
Now HOPE not hate can reveal that such views can also be found among the activists running successful anti-5G campaigns in local communities.
In 2019, campaigners in Totnes, Devon, declared a victory in a long-running campaign to pressure the council into rejecting the rollout of 5G. The council duly declared a moratorium on the building of 5G technology which, while having no legal enforceability, represented a significant morale boost for the community of activists and sympathisers who had protested, petitioned and campaigned for months to that end.
Two of the most prominent local activists in Totnes, John Kitson and Jason Liosatos, are adherents of antisemitic conspiracy theories, which they have promoted via their Facebook profiles, and in Liosatos’ case, his YouTube channel. Kitson has also posted anti-Muslim views to his Facebook feed.
With over 7000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and a rapidly growing Facebook group, John Kitson attracted mainstream media interest for his key role in the campaign against 5G in Totnes, being quoted in the Times, Daily Mail and Sun‘s reports on the story. He has travelled across the country and abroad to give speeches and interviews on the topic, including an appearance at the increasingly far-right UKIP conference in September 2019 where which he declared that radiation emitted by 5G technology, smart meters and LED street lights had led to an increase in “suicide, ADHD and autism” among children. He later went on to stand as an independent candidate for Totnes in the General Election on an anti-5G manifesto.
His campaign of misinformation and conspiracy theories is troubling in itself, but there’s a more sinister side to John Kitson’s views that he has chosen not to highlight since his campaign began to take off. His more recent Facebook posts are set to public, and almost exclusively relate to his campaigning against 5G and other forms of technology:
But in older posts that are only visible to his Facebook friends, Kitson has posted extreme antisemitic and Islamophobic statements. Kitson’s older status updates are are riddled with Holocaust denial and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including claims that Theresa May was “a tyrant controlled by Jewish Zionists” and celebration of a holocaust denier in Germany as a “hero” who “spoke the truth”.
Kitson’s anti-Muslim posts are just as shocking, with demands that the UK “deport all Muslims” or face a “violent civil war”:
Another prominent figure in the anti-5G campaign in Totnes, Jason Liosatos, has also posted antisemitic posts to his Facebook page. An art gallery owner in Totnes, Liosatos has played a prominent role in organising and promoting anti-5G protests and conferences in the town and traveled to conferences in Glastonbury and other anti-5G hotspots. His YouTube channel, “Jason Liosatos Outside The Box”, has over 17,000 subscribers and promotes a number of conspiracy theories, including anti-5G content. His channel also features numerous interviews with notorious antisemitic propagandists such as Gilad Atzmon.
Like Kitson, Liosatos combines his specific anti-5G activism with an antisemitic worldview which he promotes in his YouTube videos and Facebook statuses. He encourages his audience to “read the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion to know who your masters are”, referring to the long-debunked antisemitic forgery that purported to detail a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to control global governments and control events. Like Kitson, he alleges that “Zionist Israel owns your governments” and that the Rothschild family “invented National Socialism [Nazism]”.
Kitson and Liosatos represent a particularly dangerous type of conspiracy theorist. Public concerns about the health impacts of 5G, while scientifically baseless, are gaining a significant amount of attention at the moment, drawing new audiences to figureheads such as Kitson and Liosatos and giving them a growing platform to spread their views.
Moreover, these activists are being legitimised by their successes in lobbying councils and community organising. Both local councillors and the communities they serve need to be aware of the ideologies behind some of the activists who are pushing this agenda.
It is important to point out that many people in the anti-5G movement do not share the hateful views of Kitson and Liosatos, and that such views sadly exist in many other movements too.
But given their growing reach and influence, extreme conspiracy theorists like these should not be written off as comical yet harmless fantasists; lurking beneath many of their theories are hateful and dangerous beliefs that need to be exposed and tackled head on.