As the Trump administration heat mounts on the government leakers who have become a critical component of reporting in Washington, journalists cite “catastrophic failure of source protection” on the part of The Intercept in the case of Reality Leigh Winner, charged in leaking a document on national security probes of Russian election hacking. A journalist is indicted by a federal grand jury on an astounding eight felony counts for being present while property was destroyed during an Inauguration Day protest in Washington. Twitter users ask President Trump to lift blocks on their access to his feed imposed after they disagreed with him, saying his account is a “designated public forum” subject to the First Amendment. Reports have U.S. investigators looking at Russian hacking of Qatar’s state news agency to plant a fake news story that had a role in the current political crisis among Gulf countries. And in scrapping regular daytime programming, networks put Thursday’s Comey testimony on a shortlist of congressional hearings deemed meriting live broadcast.
– Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer


DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression

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


After Reality Winner’s Arrest, Media Asks: Did ‘Intercept’ Expose a Source?
The arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, an intelligence contractor accused of leaking a classified report about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, has raised concerns about measures taken by news organizations to protect confidential informers, with some reporters worrying about a chilling effect on potential sources. About an hour after the report’s publication on Monday, the Justice Department said it had charged Ms. Winner with violating the Espionage Act, saying she had leaked the report.

Santa Fe Reporter Writer Indicted Following Inaugural Protest Coverage
Aaron Cantúhas been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he participated in a riot while working as a journalist during protests in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day. Cantú faces eight felony counts—including inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot and five counts of destruction of property. The arrests have been criticized by civil rights groups and newspapers as overly broad and lacking hard evidence.

Twitter Users Blocked by Trump Seek Reprieve, Citing First Amendment
In a letter sent to Mr. Trump on Tuesday, lawyers for several users he has blocked argued that his account was a “public forum” from which the government may not constitutionally exclude people because it disagrees with views they have expressed. The letter said that Mr. Trump’s blocking of users on Twitter suppressed their free-expression rights in several ways.

It’s a big deal that broadcast networks will air the Comey hearing live
In a rare move, CBS is scrapping its daytime lineup to carry live coverage of Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The public portion of Comey’s testimony is scheduled to last only three hours; he will provide additional testimony in a closed session later in the day. Still, it takes a major news event to compel the networks to go live from a congressional hearing room. Their willingness to do so for Comey is a testament to their belief that Thursday could be a historic day.

Kids Are Quoting Trump To Bully Their Classmates And Teachers Don’t Know What To Do About It
Donald Trump’s campaign and election have added an alarming twist to school bullying, with white students using the president’s words and slogans to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, and Jewish classmates. The first school year of the Donald Trump presidency left educators struggling to navigate a climate where misogyny, religious intolerance, name-calling, and racial exclusion have become part of mainstream political speech.


US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis 
US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago.

One year Under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Press Freedom Lags Behind Democratic Progress
When Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her long-persecuted National League for Democracy party won elected office in November 2015, bringing an end to nearly five decades of authoritarian military rule, many local journalists saw the democratic result as a de facto win for press freedom. Irrawaddy editor Kyaw Zwa Moe says while Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has not imposed new restrictions on reporters, it has also not done enough to amend or abolish laws from the military era, including bans on reporting that could be deemed as threatening to national harmony and security.

India’s Battered Free Press
Press freedom in India suffered a fresh blow on Monday when the country’s main investigative agency raided homes and offices connected to the founders of NDTV, India’s oldest television news station. The raids mark an alarming new level of intimidation of India’s news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since Mr. Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.  The Central Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday that it “fully respects the freedom of press.” Even if that’s true, the question still outstanding is whether Mr. Modi does.

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