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During breaks in the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate Judiciary Committee, dozens of women come forward to share their experiences of sexual assault. Following yesterday’s hearings, some journalists reconsider how to cover instances of sexual assault, and how to approach victims. Neo-Nazi activist in Idaho who sent threatening robocalls to politicians linked to similar threats to a local newspaper. Google executive Keith Enright declines to say whether the company believes China censors its citizens on the Internet. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager.

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today

U.S.

Callers Flood C-SPAN with Sexual Assault Stories during Ford Hearing
Callers who self-identified as either Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, both shared personal experiences of sexual assault and discredited Dr. Ford’s testimony on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” #MeToo advocates have long argued that a history of not believing sexual assault stories has hampered progress in delivering justice.
POLITICO

“The Media Bullying of Christine Blasey Ford”
“Reporters commonly infringe on the privacy of people who have experienced trauma in pursuit of the facts. We are taught to push past the inevitable discomfort and ignore the triggering of our internal barometers of empathy. But journalists ought to be able to explain the how and why of our work with a measure of human decency that we’d apply in any other facet of our lives.”
COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW

Neo-Nazi Activist behind Racist Robocalls Linked to Threats of Idaho Newspaper
Scott Rhodes was first identified by the Sandpoint Reader; in recent days threatening robocalls and letters have been sent to the publishers of the Reader, an alternative newspaper. One of those who received the call, retired journalist Jay Shelledy, said “it was very close to being, if not in fact, a physical threat.”
GUARDIAN

Google Executive Declines to Say if China Censors Its Citizens
In response to Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) question, “In your opinion, does China engage in censoring its citizens?” Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, answered “As the privacy representative of Google, I am not sure I have an informed opinion on that question.” during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday.
THE INTERCEPT

 
Global

Writers Bat for Jailed Filmmaker *PEN Case List
Writers from around the world gathered in Pune, India for the 84th PEN International Congress called on the Russian government to release of Oleg Sentsov, now on his 138th day of hunger strike. Sentsov is widely believed to have been imprisoned for his opposition to the annexation of Crimea.
TIMES OF INDIA

Sentsov Shortlisted as Candidate for Sakharov’s European Parliament Prize *PEN Case List
Sentsov is a candidate for this year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Since 1988, the Euopean Union has awarded the Sakharov Prize to individuals and organizations that defend human rights and fundamental freedoms.
112 INTERNATIONAL

Colombia Stepping on Press Freedoms, Especially among Foreign Journalists
In December, Colombia implemented what it called “simplified” migratory rules. The rule only allows journalists to renew or receive a visa if they had a bachelors degree in journalism, making it nearly impossible for foreign journalists to renew or receive visas that allow them to work in the country.
POYNTER

Journalists Slam Pending Bangladesh Digital Security Law
Journalists and human rights groups are demanding major amendments to a bill recently passed in Bangladesh’s Parliament, saying it will further choke freedom of speech. The bill would replace a previous information communication technology law; many editors and reporters have been sued for defamation under the law.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

14 Writers Imprisoned for Their Work
“Writing is dangerous. Novels, social media, poetry, lyrics, journalism, and blogs are dangerous—because when one person speaks, others might just listen. Writers around the world are under fire because their work is deemed too radical or too lewd. Listening to the stories of writers under attack is the first step to pushing back against censorship.”
ELECTRIC LITERATURE

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When survivors share experiences of harassment and assault, we are reminded of the searing impact these experiences have for years and decades. These traumas can be compounded by online harassment and trolling once an accuser goes public. While there are no easy answers, the Online Harassment Field Manual contains effective strategies and resources to defend against cyber hate and fight online abuse. You can access the Field Manual at https://onlineharassmentfieldmanual.pen.org