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President Trump declares national emergency to receive funds for border wall, sparking debate over executive authority; lawmakers yesterday promised legal action if the president were to follow through with the decision. (See PEN America’s statement.) Free speech organization sues California Attorney General over new law, seeking retroactive access to police misconduct records that the state has withheld. U.S. born Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi revealed as material witness in criminal espionage case of U.S. Air Force counterintelligence defector. Loyola University Chicago begins restricting student journalists and outside media access to members of their campus community, as advocates cite concerns for the independence of journalism. -Nora Benavidez, Director of U.S. Free Expression Programs

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


Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall
President Trump declared a national emergency at the border to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers.

Free-Speech Group Sues California AG Xavier Becerra over New Police Records Law
The First Amendment Coalition, an organization that promotes open government and First Amendment rights, filed a lawsuit against Becerra alleging the California Department of Justice rejected a records request under the transparency law.

Spy Betrayed U.S. to Work for Iran, Charges Say
Monica Witt has been charged with two counts of espionage and other crimes for what prosecutors said was her help to the Iranian government with spearfishing attempts that targeted her former colleagues. Investigators also said she provided the Iranians with secret details about American intelligence operations.

Editorial: Loyola’s Media Policy Is Straight out of the Trump Playbook
“Loyola and its President Jo Ann Rooney have cracked down on how media entities access members of its community. It’s not just outside papers and TV stations, however. The school has extended those restrictions to their own student media.”


Journalist’s Arrest in Philippines Sparks Demonstrations, Fears of Wider Crackdown
Press freedom advocates across Manila, including students and some faculty at a handful of universities, have been rallying the past two days following the latest arrest of journalist Maria Ressa this week.

Angry over Campus Speech by Uighur Activist, Chinese Students in Canada Contact Their Consulate
The incident offers a vivid example of how Chinese students have grown into a vocal and coordinated force on Western campuses, monitoring and pushing back against speech they deem critical of China.

Chinese Censorship the Talk of Berlin after Zhang Yimou Film Pulled from Festival
The Berlin International Film Festival looked like a celebration of Chinese filmmaking, but the withdrawal of Zhang Yimou’s “One Second” changed that. With no explanation for the shock decision, international commentators had reason to focus on censorship amid tightening government control of the arts.

How Fake News Was Weaponized in Nigeria’s Elections
Disinformation and propaganda are nothing new in the Nigerian election season. But in the lead up to the 2019 presidential vote on Saturday, fake news “has been on steroids,” said journalist Lolade Nwanze.

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