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White House arranged off-the-record briefing for journalists by disgraced former aide Rob Porter after revelations of his serial spousal abuse had emerged. Clashes over offensive speech rattle Princeton and Stanford. West Virginia legislature ejects candidate from house floor for reading off names of lawmakers’ donors from the oil and gas industry while the body was debating a bill to expand drilling rights on private land. PEN America 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award goes to jailed Myanmar journalists WA Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, imprisoned for uncovering human rights atrocities. -Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director

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


White House arranged off-the-record meeting with Porter and four reporters after abuse allegations
The White House reportedly arranged an off-the-record meeting between four reporters and former aide Rob Porter after he was accused of domestic abuse: In the hours after a photo surfaced of one of Porter’s ex-wives with a black eye, a meeting was planned by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The Complications of Free Speech
Controversial posters on immigration have rattled residents of one Stanford University dormitory. And university administrators, who have been zealous in their support of free speech rights, seem to have softened, removing one flier even while later admitting it should have remained hanging.

Candidate Ejected From West Virginia House Floor for Listing Lawmakers’ Oil and Gas Donors
John H. Shott, a West Virginia state lawmaker, did not appreciate when, during a public hearing on the House floor on Friday, a citizen began listing donations he and some of his colleagues had received from the oil and gas industry. When she ignored his warning to stop, he had her forcibly escorted out.

Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals
Ruling that graffiti—a typically transient form of art—was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law, a federal judge in Brooklyn awarded a judgment of $6.7 million to 21 graffiti artists whose works were destroyed in 2013 at the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens.


Two journalists exposed a massacre in Burma. Now they’ll be awarded for their work—from prison.
For more than two months, the Burmese government has held two Reuters reporters in prison for their investigation into a massacre by the country’s military. Now, just days after their explosive and detailed account of the operation was finally published, the two men will win a renowned journalism award for their work.

Georgian Government on Defensive in Journalist Kidnapping Case
In a secretly recorded interview, imprisoned journalist Afgan Mutkhtarli provided a detailed account of his abduction from Georgia to Azerbaijan and blamed Georgia’s leadership. The Georgian government has described his allegations as “absurd.”

Vietnamese Authorities Transfer Jailed Blogger Mother Mushroom to Remote Prison
Vietnamese authorities have transferred ailing jailed blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh to a remote prison more than 620 miles from her former location in the city of Nha Trang on the country’s south central coast without notifying her family.

Winter Olympics: Russia whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov ‘fears for life’
Russian former anti-doping official Grigory Rodchenkov has given his first televised interview in disguise since fleeing to the United States in 2015. The whistleblower who made allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia says his “life is in jeopardy” and the Russian government want him to “stop talking.”

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