Filmmaker claims censoring attempt

Redlands Daily Facts, CA
San Bernardino Sun, CA
July 27 2008

Filmmaker claims censoring attempt

Wes Woods II, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/26/2008 11:57:05 PM PDT

CLAREMONT – A man who filmed a June 10 lecture by a Turkish diplomat
at Claremont Graduate University now has a Web site criticizing the
university, alleging it is trying to censor his film on the Internet.
In fact, he has created the site –
– describing his attempts to place his film on YouTube.

His reason for the Web site, which has a title of "Claremont Graduate
University Censorship," is that videographer Peter Musurlian’s YouTube
video about the lecture was blurred and briefly pulled down.

In the video, Musurlian comments on how the speaker, R. Hakan Tekin,
the consul general of Turkey in Los Angeles, at "age 41 he
mathematically could be the grandson of a perpetrator of the Armenian
genocide. … Instead he’s armed with rhetorical skills, a smile and
Turkish government talking points and propaganda."

During World War I, as many as one and a half million Armenians were
treated as possible enemies and killed after being forced into
concentration camps when Turkey joined the Central Powers against

The conflict goes back to at least the 1800s when Armenians,
identified with the Christian religion, were placed at odds with
Turkey’s Muslim factions.

The Turkish government has denied there ever was an Armenian genocide.

Musurlian, 46, is a station manager for Burbank’s government access
channel and also a board member on the Armenian National Committee of
America’s Western Region.

He said he was not at the "The Role and Challenges of Turkey in a
Globalizing World" lecture on behalf of the national committee and
just wanted to tape the event for his channel.

Musurlian said he had a campus lawyer, identified as Paul S. Berra,
tell him to blur student faces or the university would have the video

"He initially said some of the students were being harassed,"
Musurlian said.

But the video doesn’t focus in on students and he said he wasn’t given
a specific reason about the kind of harassment.

In a letter claimed to be from Berra posted on Musurlian’s Web site,
the lawyer wrote " … I asked you to voluntarily remove your video
from YouTube because you had no authority to publish it. I explained
that you needed to obtain, for starters, the students’ consent before
doing so."

When reached at his Santa Monica law office on Friday, attorney Paul
S. Berra said he had no comment.

The video, Musurlian said, was posted June 14, and about nine days
later Berra contacted him, he said.

A YouTube e-mail Musurlian sent from his account Friday shows the
video was removed June 25 "as a result of a third-party notification
by Claremont Graduate University claiming that this material is

Musurlian e-mailed back a counter-notification and on July 10 the
video was restored.

When asked, Claremont Graduate University spokesman Nikolaos Johnson
said the campus had no comment on its filming procedures, the genocide
Web site or its use of a lawyer.

Rachel Matteo-Boehm, a partner at Holme, Roberts and Owen, is general
counsel to the California First Amendment Coalition.

Matteo-Boehm said that because no one had objected to Musurlian’s
attendance, there didn’t appear to be any potential privacy issues.

"I don’t see any legal basis to request student faces to be blurred
based on the facts as I understand them," Matteo-Boehm said.

Musurlian said he set up a large tripod, a camera and placed a
wireless microphone on the podium and was actually encouraged to ask a
question at the lecture.

"It was a pleasant experience," he said.

The Web site now has more than 5,800 hits. Musurlian said he has "no
plans" of taking the Web site or any of his videos down.

"The Web site, I paid for it to be up for a year," Musurlian said.