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Revelations that Russian-inspired disinformation tactics were used as part of the 2017 Alabama senatorial election surface, leaving Democratic operatives and the research firm involved distancing themselves from some of the more controversial practices. In spite of requests from the Egyptian government to not do so, CBS airs a ’60 Minutes’ interview with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in which he denies the country’s detention of political prisoners. Advocates for open government express concern for elected officials’ and candidates’ use of Instagram Stories, whose content expires after 24 hours. New Hampshire police arrest a resident after he made comments critical of a police officer on Facebook, saying he had committed criminal libel. -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Secret Campaign to Use Russian-Inspired Tactics in 2017 Ala. Election Stirs Anxiety for Democrats
A secret effort to influence the 2017 Senate election in Alabama used tactics inspired by Russian disinformation teams, including the creation of fake accounts to deliver misleading messages on Facebook to hundreds of thousands of voters.

CBS Broadcasts Sisi Interview despite Egypt Request Not to Air It
During the interview, el-Sisi told host Scott Pelly that his country was engaged in military cooperation with Israel in Sinai and dismissed reports estimating that Egypt has imprisoned as many as 60,000 political activists.

Policymakers Are Embracing Instagram Stories. Open Government Advocates Are Worried.
Unlike traditional posts, these missives delete by default, which could leave no trace of political messages or policy stances. Some think it’s time for new record-keeping rules, including ones that account for social media and disappearing posts.

He Disparaged the Police on Facebook. So They Arrested Him.
Last year, in a comment on a newspaper’s Facebook page, Robert Frese said a New Hampshire police officer who had given him a traffic citation was “a dirty cop.” Frese was arrested for committing criminal libel.

Must Writers Be Moral? Their Contracts May Require It
“Agents hate morality clauses because terms like ‘public condemnation’ are vague and open to abuse. … When I asked writers about morality clauses, on the other hand, most of them had no idea what I was talking about. You’d be surprised at how many don’t read the small print.”


A Jailed Blogger in Azerbaijan Is on a Hunger Strike to Fight Bogus Charges. He Must Be Freed.
“Mehman Huseynov is a blogger, an activist for a free press, and a journalist who has exposed uncomfortable truths about the rulers of Azerbaijan. For almost two years, he has been imprisoned on bogus charges. In response to additional charges, he has gone on a hunger strike. “He must be freed and this travesty ended.”
*See PEN America’s statement

Nigeria Raids Paper, Arrests Journalists over Boko Haram Coverage
Nigeria’s security forces have raided the offices of the country’s Daily Trust newspaper and arrested two of its journalists over the paper’s coverage of the armed group, Boko Haram.

‘It’s like 1984’: Venezuela Targets Human Rights Defenders
Amid Venezuela’s collapse, President Nicolás Maduro has locked up those accused of criticizing his regime–often without due process. “It’s like ‘1984’ in there,” an activist said. “They do what they want and the answer to no one.”

Chinese Censors Go Old School to Clamp down on Twitter: A Knock on the Door
In Beijing and other cities across China, prominent Twitter users confirmed in interviews to The Washington Post that authorities are sharply escalating the Twitter crackdown. It suggests a wave of new and more aggressive tactics by state censors and cyber-watchers trying to control the Internet.

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