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Democratic lawmakers reintroduce the Journalist Protection Act intended to designate certain attacks on working journalists as a federal crime. A Kentucky judge rules the state police must provide news organizations with its database of citations and arrests, despite the state’s argument that it would be too time consuming and costly to make these public records actually accessible. The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, himself once imprisoned by Iran, looks at the latest in Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto’s effort to seek asylum in the U.S. -Dru Menaker, Chief Operating Officer

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


Democratic Lawmakers Unveil Journalist Protection Act Amid Trump Attacks on Media
Democratic lawmakers reintroduced a Journalist Protection Act that intends to designate “certain attacks on those reporting the news” as a federal crime. Lawmakers said they were introducing the bill as a response to President Trump’s “climate of extreme hostility” toward the media.

Kentucky State Police Must Hand over Crime Database to Courier Journal, Judge Rules
In a victory for the Courier Journal, a judge ruled that the Kentucky State Police must provide the newspaper its entire database of citations and arrests since 2003. The judge held that “an agency should not be able to rely on any inefficiency in its own internal record keeping system to thwart an otherwise proper open records request.”

Opinion: U.S. Immigration Authorities Are Failing This Award-Winning Mexican Journalist
“Emilio Gutiérrez Soto and his son were denied their most recent appeal for asylum by a judge who claimed, ‘The record lacks evidence that the respondent wrote any articles that denounce the corruption in Mexico.’ But Gutiérrez has written numerous articles on precisely that topic—and was threatened for precisely that reason.”

Vast License Plate Database Used to Track Undocumented Immigrants
Over 80 law enforcement agencies have agreed to share license plate information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that supports arrests and deportations, and helped the agency track drivers’ location in real time, apparently in violation of local laws and ICE’s privacy rules, according to documents acquired by the ACLU.


Russian Bills Banning ‘Fake News,’ Insults Head to Putin for Signature
*See PEN America’s statement here
Legislation enabling Russian authorities to block websites and hand out punishment for “fake news” and material deemed insulting to the state or the public is headed to President Vladimir Putin’s desk for his signature.

Venezuela Police Free Noted Journalist after Overnight Detention
Luis Carlos Diaz’s release was confirmed by the national press workers union, known as SNTP, on Twitter. Diaz was charged with instigating crime and barred from leaving the country without authorization. He must appear before a court every eight days.

Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Stand Trial in Criminal Court
Several Saudi Arabian women rights activists stood trial on today for the first time since a group of them were detained last year in a case that has intensified scrutiny of Riyadh’s human rights record after the murder of a prominent journalist.

‘WhatsApp has come in to fill the void’: In Zimbabwe, the future of news is messaging
WhatsApp facilitated the spread of misinformation during elections in Brazil and has contributed to caste-based violence and mob killings in India. But it can also serve as a platform for democratized distribution of news in a country with a storied history of oppressing government critics.

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