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Trump campaign official sought proposals from foreign intelligence firms to create false online identities and stoke social media manipulation in the run-up to the 2016 election. Google shuts down its Google+ platform after failing to disclose a security bug affecting hundreds of thousands of accounts’ data. President Trump attempts to alter the historical record with false public claim that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of sexual misconduct during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for his nomination. Accusations of literary plagiarism stir conversations on authorship, appropriation, and the line between homage and theft. Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi journalist and government critic, is reportedly killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul during a routine appointment (see PEN America statement here.) -Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager

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


Rick Gates Sought Online Manipulation Plans From Israeli Intelligence Firm for Trump Campaign
Trump campaign aide Rick Gates expressed interest in an Israeli company’s proposal for a social media manipulation effort, requesting proposals from the company to create fake online identities, use social media manipulation, and gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton.

Google+ to Shut Down After Security Bug
Google said it is shutting down the social network Google+ for consumer use amid new scrutiny of the company for reportedly failing to publicly disclose a security bug. Google “discovered and immediately patched” a bug that potentially allowed app developers to access profile data from users that had not been marked as public.

Trump Falsely Says Kavanaugh Was ‘Proven Innocent’ at Swearing-In
Speaking at a White House ceremony, Trump made the baseless claim that the new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of allegations of sexual assault. Earlier in the day, Trump had claimed that Kavanaugh was “caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats.” Again he offered no evidence.

In Literature, Who Decides When Homage Becomes Theft?
“There’s long precedent for revisiting and recasting the work of fellow writers, communing and wrestling with predecessors and contemporaries alike; it’s essential to art as a sustained exploration of the human condition over time. For the same act, one writer is called out, and the other given a pass. Why the imbalance in response?”


Turkey to Search Saudi Consulate for Missing Journalist *PEN Case List
Turkey said it will search the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, after he vanished during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have said they fear the columnist was killed at the premises.

Tough New Bangladesh Measure Becomes Law, Seen Curbing Free Speech
President Abdul Hamid on Monday gave his assent to the controversial new law that media groups fear could restrict press freedom. The Parliament passed the Digital Security Act last month, combining the colonial-era Official Secrets Act with tough new provisions such as arrests without a warrant.

Press Associations Urge Prime Minister to Hold Independent Inquiry into Caruana Galizia Murder
Maltese journalist Caruana Galizia was killed using a car bomb as she left her home last year. More than 25 organizations, including press associations and human rights NGOs, are urging Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to hold a public inquiry into the murder of Galizia ahead of the one-year anniversary of her killing.

Bulgarian Journalist Viktoria Marinova Raped and Murdered
Bulgarian authorities are investigating the rape and murder of investigative reporter Viktoria Marinova, the third journalist to have been killed in the EU in the past year. Most recently Marinova anchored the program “Detector,” where she interviewed two journalists who were investigating alleged corruption involving European Union funds.

Court Frees Arrested Senior Magazine Editor in South India
The court released R.R. Gopal, the chief editor of a prominent investigative magazine, hours after police arrested him on charges of publishing material that defamed the state governor. Gopal was arrested after his magazine, “Nakkeeran,” published reports linking the governor to a recent university sex scandal.

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