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Evidence emerges of Memphis police department using fake social media accounts to surveil Black Lives Matter activists. Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends attacks on CNN’s Jim Acosta at a Trump rally. Democratic senators introduce resolution urging the President to respect press freedom. Citing free speech rights, California-based anti-vaccination activists sue state senator for blocking them on Twitter. In a big to return to the Chinese market, Google is reported to be creating a censored search engine (see PEN America’s March report on online censorship in China here.) -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

 

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

U.S.

Memphis Police Accused of Using Fake Accounts to Surveil Black Activists
A trove of documents released by the city of Memphis appear to show that its police department has been systematically using fake social media profiles to surveil local Black Lives Matter activists, and keep dossiers on dozens of Memphis-area activists.
GUARDIAN

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Defends Verbal Attacks on CNN’s Jim Acosta
At a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday night, Acosta faced a barrage of middle fingers and shouted insults from the crowd. The White House would not say it was ‘wrong’ for Trump supporters to actively prevent reporters from doing their jobs.
DAILY BEAST

Dem Senators Introduce Resolution Calling on Trump to Stop Attacking the Press
A group of Democratic senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday urging President Trump to respect the rights of the press. “Punishing reporters for simply doing their job is a strongman tactic that cannot be tolerated in a free democracy.”
HILL

Citing Free Speech Rights, Anti-Vaccine Activists Sue State Senator for Blocking them on Twitter
A pair of anti-vaccine activists recently filed a lawsuit against a state senator who authored a controversial vaccine law for blocking the activists on Twitter, arguing that it limited their First Amendment rights.
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Google, Seeking a Return to China, Is Said to Be Building a Censored Search Engine
Google withdrew from China eight years ago to protest the country’s censorship and online hacking. Now, Google is working on a censored search engine for China that will filter websites and search terms that are blacklisted by the Chinese government.
NEW YORK TIMES

 
Global

I’ve Spent a Fifth of My Life in Prison Just for Doing the Work of a Journalist *PEN Case List
Eskinder Nega, a renowned Ethiopian journalist, was released from prison earlier this year after his arrest “for doing the work of a journalist.” “I am a child of America’s First Amendment… we should all be able to express ourselves without fear.”
TIME

Halya Coynash: Moscow Bans Rally in Support of Oleg Sentsov *PEN Case List
The relevant authorities in Moscow have refused to allow a picket calling for the release of Oleg Sentsov, the Ukrainian filmmaker whom Russia arrested after its annexation of Crimea.
KYIV POST

Chinese Spiritual Leader Is Accused of Harassing Female Followers
In a document that circulated on social media, two male monks accused the Venerable Xuecheng, the abbot of Longquan Monastery and a powerful religious official, of sending explicit messages and making unwanted advances toward women.
NEW YORK TIMES

‘International Media Attention Has Been a Force For Good’
The wives of prominent Chinese human rights lawyers have called for continuing international media attention on the plight of their husbands, many of whom have suffered torture and forced medication while behind bars in a nationwide crackdown.
RADIO FREE ASIA

Amnesty International Staff Targeted by Israeli-Made Spyware
Amnesty International says one of its employees was targeted with Israeli-made surveillance software as part of a deliberate attempt to spy on the human rights group by a “government hostile to its work”.
AL JAZEERA

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