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New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma is abruptly ousted amid furor over publication of essay by former Canadian radio journalist Jian Ghomeshi concerning allegations of sexual abuse. Viral rumors about Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blaney Ford mount: New York Times debunks them. Department of Justice requires Chinese state-owned media organs to register as foreign agents. Newsrooms in Texas band together to purchase costly voter registration database. -Suzanne Nossel, Chief Executive Officer

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


New York Review of Books Editor Is Out Amid Uproar Over #MeToo Essay
The essay’s author, Jian Ghomeshi, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016, lamented his status as a pariah, “constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online.” It caused immediate furor, with some criticizing what they saw as a self-pitying tone, and soft pedaling of the accusations.

Debunking 5 Viral Rumors About Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s Accuser
Since her public accusation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Dr. Blasey has been the subject of a torrent of misinformation online. Some viral rumors about Dr. Blasey have been quickly debunked. But false claims have continued to spread on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social networks.

Beijing complains as US ‘orders Chinese media to register as foreign agents’
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires anyone acting on behalf of a foreign government to register with the US Department of Justice and file public reports. If registered, Xinhua and CGTN would have to disclose their budgets and expenditures and include disclaimers identifying the outlets as foreign agents on all broadcasts.

20 local newsrooms just chipped in to buy the “prohibitively expensive” Texas Voter Registration Database
Houston Chronicle Data Editor Matt Dempsey said in a tweet that, “Each newsroom had to provide a signed affidavit saying we would not use this data for commercial purposes. We will only use this data for news gathering and stories. We’ve all agreed to NOT post the entire data online.”


Israeli Arab Poet Dareen Tatour, Convicted of Incitement, Released From Prison *PEN Case List
“I am very happy to have freedom at least after three years in prison, remand, house arrest with an electronic cuff and again house arrest,” Tatour told reporters. “At last I’m free, and I will continue writing. I will not stop. Of course I won’t. The whole case was about a poem.”

Attacks on journalists in Germany on the rise
A recent report has shown most journalists are attacked while photographing, filming or holding cameras. The report showed a sharp rise in attacks on the press in 2018, when some 28 journalists suffered a total of 22 verified physical assaults so far.

Former Columnist Jailed For Social Media Criticism of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi
A court in Yangon has sentenced Ngar Min Swe, a well-known critic of the country’s de facto leader, to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine for violating a sedition law by criticizing Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on social media, in the latest challenge to freedom of expression in the Southeast Asian country.

‘There’s no problem’: Labor rejects case for new free speech rules at universities in Australia
The Labor opposition says there is no case to compel Australian universities to adopt new rules on free speech, arguing recent controversies demonstrate freedom of expression is “alive and well” on campuses.

Google is handing the internet’s future to China, after dumping ‘Don’t Be Evil’
This month, PEN America sent a detailed letter to Google executives spelling out specific human rights issues and subjects that, per Chinese censorship rules, would be treated repressively and deceptively by any information platform operating in the country.

Vietnam jails retired teacher for 14 years for ‘attempted subversion’
Former primary schoolteacher Dao Quang Thuc was jailed after speaking out on Facebook about environmental issues. His daughter said he was not given a fair trial and insisted he is innocent: “The trial today was not transparent. Not many people were allowed to attend and those present at the court were not objective.”

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