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MSNBC rehires Sam Seder, days after cutting ties with him following a campaign by far-right activists led by Mike Cernovich, peddler of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The Trump administration’s third attempt at a Muslim travel ban reaches a Court of Appeals in Virginia. Five Minnesota students sue their high school and the district on free speech grounds, claiming the Young Conservatives Club was wrongfully terminated. Authoritarian rulers around the world are adopting Trump’s accusations of “fake news” to silence dissent and limit free expression. -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator

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


MSNBC decides to bring back Sam Seder after controversy
The decision to fire Seder was met with a negative reaction throughout the media world—and inside the halls of MSNBC. One anonymous senior MSNBC employee called the move “really weak” and “pathetic.” And many journalists were appalled that the network would capitulate to Cernovich and his misreading of the tweet.

Trump travel ban—the 3.0 version—argued at appeals court
The administration was forced to rewrite earlier travel ban versions after judges determined the orders were unconstitutional because they targeted Muslims. In the last go-round at the 4th Circuit in May, the court said in a 10-to-3 ruling that the travel ban “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.”

Five students, parents sue Edina High, district on free speech grounds
Last month, some students sat in protest during the playing of taps and the national anthem in a Veterans Day assembly, the lawsuit says. Members of the Young Conservatives Club were outraged and took to Twitter to express that, according to a statement by the students who filed suit.

When the Truth Is Unconstitutional
At issue in the case are requirements that a 2015 California law imposes on “crisis pregnancy centers,” described as places that “pose as full-service women’s health clinics, but aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions” through “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices.”


Cameroon detains US writer who criticized government
Patrice Nganang had written an article for Jeune Afrique in which he was critical of how Cameroon has handled a sometimes violent secessionist movement in some English-speaking areas. Nganang went missing from the airport in Douala on Thursday. (See our statement here.)

Trump’s ‘fake news’ mantra a hit with despots
By aligning with Trump’s words, despots can use the U.S. president as a shield for their attacks on press freedom and human rights, said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Trump, he added, “is providing a context and framework for all sorts of authoritarian leaders to undermine and discredit reporting.”

Proposed new law could see Swedish media prosecuted for espionage
The inquiry looks at improving the protection for sensitive data in Sweden generally, and suggests the introduction of a new law, “gross foreign espionage,” with a potential jail sentence of up to eight years. Less serious crimes would be classified as foreign espionage, with a punishment of up to four years in jail.

European Parliament delegation raises concerns over Basic Law interpretation, media censorship
“We are concerned to hear about media self-censorship and about interpretations of the Basic Law prior to court rulings,” said Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China. “The rule of law is a keystone of Hong Kong’s unique way of life.”

Russia Claims U.S. Intelligence Agencies Trying To Recruit Russian Journalists
“This is an aggression . . . in terms of intelligence not only towards Russia, but also an encroachment on freedom of expression throughout the world,” Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. Her accusations came the same day Russia voted to ban U.S. media labelled as “foreign agents” from entering the lower house of parliament.

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