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The FBI is investigating whether Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, is violating the law as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin, during the presidential campaign and ongoing. Politico reports on how extremist groups make use of loose US gun control laws to show up at rallies heavily armed. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported considering giving lie detector tests to the entire National Security Council staff in search of leakers. The New York Times looks at the influence evangelical Christians and other conservative groups are having under the Trump administration on policies affecting varied rights being shaped at government agencies. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer


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


Sputnik, the Russian news agency, is under investigation by the FBI
The bureau has obtained a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents—material that could help prosecutors build a case that the news agency played a role in the Russian government “influence campaign” that was waged during last year’s presidential election.

Antifa, white supremacists exploit loose gun laws
Authorities are bracing for possible lethal confrontations at upcoming rallies and events being planned in cities across the country. They say clashes over any number of hotly contested issues could spark it, including Confederate monuments, the Trump administration’s so-called Muslim ban and gun control measures.

Source: Sessions floating idea of lie detector tests for NSC staff
In August, Sessions announced that the Justice Department had tripled the number of leak investigations compared to the number carried out by the Obama administration, and said he would not hesitate to bring criminal charges against people who had leaked classified information.

Where Trump’s Hands-Off Approach to Governing Does Not Apply
The overhaul is unfolding behind the scenes in Washington at agencies like the Health and Human Services Department, where new rules about birth control are being drafted, and in federal courtrooms, where the Justice Department has shifted gears in more than a dozen Obama-era cases involving social issues.

The Wall Street Journal’s Trump problem
As the Washington Post and New York Times were publishing groundbreaking coverage on Trump’s taxes and treatment of women, Journal staffers were voicing frustration at how their paper was publishing “too many flattering access stories” on Trump and calling their own coverage of him “neutral to the point of being absurd”.


Russian Journalist Latynina Flees Russia After Attacks
A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Latynina has said the harassment results from an atmosphere of hostility towards opposition politicians and journalists actively encouraged by Russian authorities. Earlier this month Latynina’s car caught fire in what she called an assassination attempt.

Palestinian activist arrested over Facebook post released
In jail last week, activist Issa Amro began a hunger strike to protest what he said was an unlawful detention, made without a warrant or due process. “They want to silence me and silence every voice defending human rights, but they are wrong. I will continue defending human rights and struggling against occupation,” Amro said.

Turks detained for using encrypted app ‘had human rights breached’
The government says those detained or dismissed have links to a movement led by the preacher Fethullah Gülen, who has been accused of orchestrating the attempted uprising. The detention of people on this basis is “arbitrary and in breach of article 5” of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees the right to liberty.

#PotongSteam: Malaysian Gamers Blast Blocking of Website Over ‘Fight of Gods’ Video Game
Malaysia has a predominantly Muslim population. In recent years, hardline Islamic clerics and other conservative religious leaders have criticized the government for its failure to strictly enforce Islamic teachings. PQube, the publisher of the ‘Fight of Gods’ game, insisted that it does not aim to offend any religion.

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