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Judge dismisses First Amendment lawsuit brought by Russian news agency against Facebook after social media company took down the agency’s page following its interference in the 2016 election. (See PEN America’s recent report on the effect of fraudulent news in the 2018 midterm elections.) Twenty-one Democratic candidates pledge to bring back daily press briefings for White House, State Department, and Pentagon if elected in 2020 amid current administration’s lack of briefings. Los Angeles Police Department records reveal agency has been secretly recording anti-Trump activists, raising potential privacy concerns among legal community. Vermont Supreme Court upholds state news media shield law to support public access to court records -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Judge Tosses Russian Trolls’ Free Speech Lawsuit against Facebook
A Russian news agency blacklisted by U.S. authorities for its role in 2016 election interference and ties to Kremlin disinformation operations suffered a serious setback in its free speech battle against Facebook when a judge tossed its lawsuit claiming its First Amendment rights were violated by the social media giant.

Democrats Pledge to Bring Back Daily White House, Pentagon Briefings
Nearly every Democratic candidate is pledging to restore daily press briefings in 2021 at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, which hasn’t held an on-camera question-and-answer session with a spokesperson in more than a year.

Los Angeles Police Spied on Anti-Trump Protesters
The Los Angeles police department has revealed in court that it infiltrated an activist group planning anti-Trump protests, in the latest case of U.S. law enforcement spying on leftwing organizers.

Vt. Supreme Court Sides with WCAX in First Amendment Battle
The case involved footage WCAX Photographer Shelly Holt Allen shot last year during an officer-involved shooting at Montpelier High School. A judge quashed a subpoena after prosecutors sought the video, but that decision has been kept under wraps.

Trump Administration Pauses Enforcement of Abortion Restriction
The Trump administration is giving taxpayer-funded family planning clinics more time to comply with its new rule that says they no longer can refer women for abortions. Clinics reacted warily to the administration’s enforcement pause, and the widening rift could eventually affect basic health services for many low-income women.


Adani Protest: French Journalists Arrested While Filming Anti-Coal Activities
Four journalists working for the public television network France 2 have been charged with trespassing for filming a protest near the Abbot Point coal terminal, in north Queensland, Australia, targeting the operations of the Adani group.

Anadolu Agency Journalist Unaccounted for in Israel
Mustafa Kharouf, an Anadolu Agency photojournalist in Jerusalem has not been heard from since an Israeli decision to deport him to Jordan, according to his friend. Kharouf was detained by Israeli police in East Jerusalem in January and held in prison in advance of his deportation.

Citizen Journalist among 11 Civilians Killed in Northwest Syria
Anas al-Dyab, a young citizen journalist, was among 11 civilians killed in air raids on Syria’s Idlib region Sunday, rescue workers and a monitor said, as he filmed the Russia-backed regime bombardment of the battered enclave. Dyab was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP.

Horrifying Moments as Hong Kong Journalist Live-Streams Being Attacked
Gwyneth Ho, a reporter with online Hong Kong news outlet Stand News, was assaulted while live-streaming coverage of an attack by men who opposition politicians suspect were gang members, on pro-democracy protesters at a train station in rural Hong Kong.

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