Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, indicted on 17 new criminal charges under Espionage Act, prompting concern over press freedom implications. (See PEN America’s statement.) Fake video of Nancy Pelosi speaking slowly and appearing drunk spreads across social media. (See PEN America’s recent report on the spread of disinformation and its effect on the public.) Owner of Bend Bulletin plans to dissolve company amid financial woes and will sell its seven newspapers which report on the Pacific Northwest. Twitter bans Krassenstein #Resistance brothers, who have been operating fake accounts on the platform. -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Julian Assange Charged by Justice Department for Violations of 1917 Espionage Act
Federal prosecutors accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, a highly controversial law long viewed as dangerous by civil libertarians. These charges raise significant questions about the limits of the First Amendment, and what protections the news media and publishers of classified information have under it.

Faked Pelosi Videos, Slowed to Make Her Appear Drunk, Spread across Social Media
Distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), altered to make her sound as if she’s drunkenly slurring her words, are spreading rapidly across social media, highlighting how political disinformation that clouds public understanding can now grow at the speed of the web.

Bend Bulletin Owners Plan to Sell Everything and Dissolve the Company
The owner of the Bend Bulletin plans to dissolve the company and sell all seven newspapers in its Pacific Northwest chain, according to a liquidation plan filed in federal bankruptcy court. The plan provides few details on who might buy the newspapers, real estate, and other assets.

Twitter Bans #Resistance-Famous Krassenstein Brothers for Allegedly Operating Fake Accounts
Twitter has permanently banned prominent anti-Trump brothers Brian and Ed Krassenstein, alleging that two of the biggest stars of #Resistance Twitter had broken the site’s rules about operating fake accounts and purchasing fake interactions with their accounts.


Iranian Journalist Kazemi Jailed on New National Security Charges
Masud Kazemi, editor in chief of the monthly Sedaye Parsi magazine, stood trial at a Tehran Revolutionary Guards court on anti-state propaganda charges. At the hearing, the judge announced new charges against Kazemi, including acting against national security and colluding against national security.

Egypt: Court Orders Release of Journalist Mahmoud Hussein
A court in Egypt has ordered the release of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein from prison after more than 880 days of detention. The court ruled his release on Tuesday; however, following an appeal by the prosecution, Hussein was brought to a different court Thursday. It upheld the earlier decision. His release is expected soon.

Sky Journalist and Crew Deliberately Shot at by Syrian Government
The Sky News journalist Alex Crawford and her camera crew have been deliberately targeted by the Syrian government and repeatedly shot at while reporting on the regime’s assault on the province of Idlib.

Wikipedia Petitions ECHR over Turkey Ban
Wikipedia is taking Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights over a two-year ban imposed on the site in the country. The Wikimedia Foundation says it filed the petition on the grounds that a ban on its online encyclopaedia violated the right to freedom of expression.

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