Psychologists and free expression advocates debate whether words can constitute violence. A POLITICO reporter alleges the White House had threatened to get her removed from the White House Correspondents’ Association. Winnie the Pooh becomes the newest figure to be banned in mainland China as Chinese censors kick into overdrive after the death of Liu Xiaobo and partially block WhatsApp. In Turkey, a court orders six human rights activists to remain in custody for “aiding a terror group,” amidst widespread concerns—including from PEN chapters around the world—of a rapid decline in free expression. –James Tager, Free Expression Programs Manager


Why it’s a bad idea to tell students words are violence
We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group.

Why you should be alarmed by cries of ‘fake news’
An American Press Institute survey found that 6 in 10 Republicans believe news organizations primarily just prevent political leaders from doing their jobs.

White House’s threats against reporters
White House Correspondents Association president Jeff Mason and Politico’s Tara Palmeri discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to push back on hard-hitting coverage. Mason says the White House wanted the association to issue a statement criticizing one of Palmeri’s stories. He refused to do so.



Liu Xiaobo’s Death Pushes China’s Censors Into Overdrive
Systematic research from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs shows that there was a “significant shift” in censorship techniques in the days after Mr. Liu’s death, particularly on WeChat.

Academics demand freedom from government
A group of Thai and foreign academics urged the government on Monday to return freedom to the country. The four-point declaration, “Return the Space of Knowledge, Rights, and Civil Liberties to Thai Society,” was signed by 176 academics during the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies.

Turkey holds six rights activists on charges of aiding terror group
A Turkish court has ordered six human rights activists to remain in custody for aiding a terror group in a case the organization called a “travesty of justice.” Idil Eser, Amnesty’s Turkey director, was detained on 5 July along with seven other activists and two foreign trainers during a digital security and information management workshop.

Russian activist jailed for comparing Putin with Hitler
Anti-corruption activist Viktoria Lobova was jailed for three days for reposting a picture where Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a Nazi uniform, and is likened to Adolf Hitler. It’s the latest example where legislation prohibiting public demonstration of Nazi symbols has been used as a repressive measure against critics of the regime.

Review of Somalia’s Media Law Falls Short
When Somalia’s new minister of information took office in March, he promised to review the country’s restrictive media law, raising hopes of fostering a better environment for journalists and free expression in the country. Those hopes have largely been dashed. 


China disrupts WhatsApp service in online clampdown
The last of Facebook’s major consumer products that still worked in China was disrupted by the government on Tuesday, as Beijing broadly tightens its controls over the internet. WhatsApp, a messaging app used across the globe, was partly blocked by Chinese filters, leaving many unable to send videos and photos and some also unable to send text-based messages.

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