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National Enquirer admits to having paid off Playboy model in order to protect President Trump from revelations during 2016 campaign. Trump Administration begins to make its influence felt at Voice of America, the US government’s overseas media agency. Chinese acknowledge that a second Canadian is being detained in custody. Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 251 reporters are imprisoned worldwide, a record high that has been sustained for 3 consecutive years. -Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer

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


National Enquirer Owner Admits It Buried Stories for Trump
The parent company of the National Enquirer has admitted to engaging in the journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill.” American Media Inc. has secretly assisted Trump’s campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair, then intentionally suppressing the story until after the election.

Troubled by Lapses, Government’s Voice to the World Braces for New Trump Management
At risk from recent missteps and the potential for Trump to impose his own vision of news is the agency’s brand as an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack. Reports by the network’s 3,500 journalists reach more than 345 million people in 100 countries each week.

How the State, Prisons, and Guards Keep Books from Incarcerated People
Books and other reading materials sent through a state’s Departments of Corrections are regularly censored. Prison staff, responsible for monitoring the influx of materials, often reject or deny books at their discretion. The practice inhibits knowledge about gender, sexuality, health, and many other important topics to those behind bars.

Cardin Praises Time for Highlighting Capital Gazette, Violence Against Journalists
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) praised Time magazine’s decision to highlight violence against journalists in a speech delivered Wednesday on the Senate floor, and questioned why Trump continues to hurl insults at journalists.

See Sen. Cardin’s full remarks about Time’s choice to honor Jamal Khashoggi, Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo, the Capital Gazette staff, and other journalists targeted for their work here


Canadian Michael Spavor Detained in China as Huawei Row Continues
A second Canadian has been detained in China on accusations of harming national security. Michael Spavor, a businessman, had been detained in addition to former diplomat Michael Kovrig. Spavor runs an organisation called the Paektu Cultural Exchange, which organises business, cultural, and tourism trips to North Korea.

At Least 251 Journalists Were Imprisoned for Their Work This Year
China, Turkey, and Egypt imprisoned the highest number of journalists, according to CPJ’s annual report. The past three years recorded the highest number of jailed journalists since the report began. The report showed that 98 percent of jailed journalists were locals imprisoned by their own governments.

Cuba Fails to Pacify Artists as Backlash Against Censorship Law Builds
The government attempted to reassure protesting artists by announcing that it plans to scale back some of the most criticized parts of Decree 349, the new law that criminalizes independent cultural activity. While some see this a small victory, others see it as a ploy to mollify activists seeking to mobilize Cuba’s cultural sector.

“Even a Half-finished Show is a Victory”: Russian Bands Fight New Crackdown
Ahead of a concert in Krasnodar, Anastasia Kreslina and Nikolay Kostylev hide in an Airbnb. As soon as the venue is made public, there is a fair chance police or local thugs storm the club. Their band has been caught in a crackdown on music acts across Russia, where shows have been cancelled under local pressure that is said to have provoked an intervention by the Kremlin.

Police Confirm Arrest of Chinese Photographer
Authorities informed relatives of New York-based award-winning photographer Lu Guang, whose work focuses unsparingly on the harshest realities of life in China, that he was arrested in Kashgar, Xinjiang. His family have yet to receive a written notice with his charges, which are unclear.

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