On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn released a video in which he targeted newspaper owners who published recent stories about his dealings with a Czech spy, telling them: “We’ve got news for them, change is coming.”
Party officials said he was referring to his desire for more restrictions, including threatening all papers with having to pay the costs for people who sue them, even if they win – unless they sign up to a government code.
Milan Simecka fought against Soviet oppression when Czechoslovakia was deep behind the iron curtain.
Now his son Martin says Mr Corbyn’s threat heralds “the first step to autocracy”.
Speaking last night, he recalled a time when editors of Czech newspapers had to be approved by the state, and all journalists were forced to belong to the Communist Party.
He said: “Before 1968, Communist Party officials came to every daily paper and read every word. Not a single sentence was published that the state didn’t agree with.”
Martin and his father published secret pamphlets. Eventually, his father was jailed for 18 months.
Martin said the same secret police that used intelligence officer Jan Sarkocy to make contact with Corbyn between 1986 and 1989, inserted itself in every layer of society, ready to catch out any citizen who was not loyal enough.
He said: “We are following the latest revelations by Jan Sarkocy. But the really dangerous thing people should be talking about is the way Mr Corbyn threatened the British press once these revelations emerged.
“Throughout the 20th century, restriction of the media has been the warning signal for oppression. Corbyn has sounded that call now.
“He wants reform which goes against press freedom. It’s the road to autocracy. It is very concerning.”