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America Rising, a leading Republican opposition research group, found to be requesting access to record pertaining to journalist and journalism professor Connie Schultz, the wife of potential Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. During a visit to Riyadh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presses Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for accountability in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Controversy continues over the ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate statue on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus, with the removal of the base and commemorative plaques and the resignation of the university’s chancellor. Facebook announces a $300 million project to support local news publications. CNN.com editor in chief Meredith Artley argues for greater newsroom transparency as an essential component in building consumer trust. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


Donald Trump’s Allies Are Going after Sherrod Brown’s Journalist Wife
Two days after Brown won a third Senate term in Ohio last November, an operative for America Rising sent a public records request to Kent State University, where his wife, Connie Schultz, teaches. The group sought Schultz’s contracts and performance evaluations; Kent State responded 20 days later with 37 pages of documents.

Pompeo Presses Saudis for Accountability on Khashoggi Murder
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince that “every single person responsible” for the murder of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi needs to be held accountable.

‘Silent Sam’ Statue’s Remains Removed from UNC as Chancellor Announces Resignation
The statue has served as a flashpoint at the Southern university, where students demanding its removal clashed with white supremacists defending the statue and provoked the ire of more mainstream politicians who enshrined protection for the statue in state law.

Facebook Is Putting $300 Million toward Stabilizing Local News
A press release explained where $36 million of that money will go, and it falls in three directions—coverage, technology, and business models. The other $264 million? Well: “There will be more to come,” said Facebook.

A Resolution for Journalists in 2019: Earn the Public’s Trust by Showing Your Work
“We need to actually do better about showing our work … Dial up the efforts to be transparent about when we get things wrong or when we change things,” said CNN.com editor in chief Meredith Artley. “I think there’s so much of the journalistic process that audiences don’t understand and we need to lay that bare.”


A Theatrical Moscow Trial Draws the Ire of Russia’s Cultural Elite *PEN Case List: Learn more
Embezzlement charges against Kirill Serebrennikov, a leading Russian theater director, come amidst a growing cultural crackdown that mirrors the country’s Soviet past—and his prosecution has captured the attention of Russia’s cultural elite.

Prominent Azerbaijani Journalist Joins Hunger Strikers Demanding Blogger’s Release *PEN Case List: Learn more
Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova has joined an ongoing hunger strike by a group of activists calling for the release of a jailed anti-corruption blogger and other people they consider political prisoners.

Huang Qi, Online Dissident and Rights Advocate in China, Faces Trial
One of China’s most prominent human rights activists, the blogger Huang Qi, went on trial on charges of leaking state secrets, and American diplomats seeking to attend the proceedings said they had been denied access.

German Newspaper Employee Attacked by Far-Right Group
Activists belonging to the far-right Identitarian Movement attacked a taz employee in front the liberal-leaning daily newspaper’s Berlin headquarters after she attempted to prevent the activists from placing a poster on the taz building.

Rio Artists Stage Show on Street in Protest against Censorship
Artists in Rio de Janeiro have staged a pop-up street show to protest against the closure by the new far-right state government of an exhibition because of a performance attacking dictatorship-era torture.

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