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Publication of James Comey memos detailing conversations with Donald Trump show the president encouraged jailing journalists over leaks. California State University embroiled in debate over what is protected free speech after differing administration responses to a white student wearing blackface and a faculty member tweeting that the late Barbara Bush was racist. After surveying writers about online harassment, PEN America prepares manual (Online Harassment Field Manual) providing the best means to protect themselves and their freedom to write. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Comey Memo: Trump Floated Idea Of Jailing Journalists To Make Them ‘Talk’
President Donald Trump floated the idea of jailing journalists to stop leaks from the White House, former FBI Director James Comey wrote in a memo last year in which he recalled an encounter with the president. “They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk,” Comey recounted the president saying.

Blackface is free speech but anti-Bush tweet is not at California university
The scandals have erupted at a time when US campuses have become the flashpoint for debates over the first amendment, anti-fascist organizing, and social justice, with some far-right commentators raising their profiles by arguing that liberal universities are “silencing” them. Critics on the left have argued that the opposite is true.

PEN America Publishes Online Harassment Field Manual
In an effort to combat harassment in the creative fields, PEN America has published, on its website, an Online Harassment Field Manual. The resource is intended, the nonprofit said, to “equip and empower writers, journalists, and all those active online with practical tools and tactics to defend against hateful speech and trolling.”

Palantir Knows Everything About You
Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. Palantir’s software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss.


Myanmar policeman describes ‘trap’ to arrest Reuters reporter *PEN Case List
Police Captain Moe Yan Naing described the lead up to the arrest of Wa Lone and Reuters colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, and said the police had arranged a “set up.” The court has been holding hearings to decide whether the pair will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Belarus Moves To Tighten Control Over Online News, Social Media
The bills under consideration propose companies providing news online to voluntarily register as media outlets. Rights groups and Western governments have accused the government of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of systemically quashing independent media, political opposition, and civil society groups.

Russia spread fake news via Twitter bots after Salisbury poisoning
Russia used trolls and bots to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning. Government sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack,–many of which were identifiable as automated bots.

Angolans laugh a little louder as iron grip loosens
President João Lourenço appears to be easing the grip held by his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. “The press is freer, but there’s no guarantee it will stay this way,” said Teixeira Candido, head of Angola’s journalist union, explaining the president still appoints the board of state media organizations.

Austria to seize migrants’ phones in asylum clampdown
Asylum seekers will be forced to hand over their mobiles so the authorities can check their identities and where they have come from. Opposition parties and human rights groups have condemned the plans, saying the only thing the bill achieves is to create more “uncertainty and mistrust among the population.”

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to DARE@pen.org