PEN’s Free Expression Digest brings you a daily curated round-up of the most important free expression-related stories from around the web. Subscribe here. *This mailing list is currently in BETA as we work out the kinks. Please send your feedback and suggestions to

Azerbaijani journalist Ismayilova asserts innocence in first day of trial *PEN case list
Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova asserted her innocence during the first day of her trial in Baku, saying the charges against her of embezzlement, tax evasion, and abuse of power are politically motivated. RFE/RL

Federal law enforcement monitored Black Lives Matter activists and protests
The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. THE INTERCEPT

Mohamed Fahmy, Canadian journalist detained in Egypt, braces for verdict
A Cairo court is expected to deliver a verdict Thursday for the Canadian journalist being tried on widely denounced terror charges, and, as the day approaches, Fahmy is hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst. THE CANADIAN PRESS

A terrorism case in Britain ends in acquittal, but journalists can’t say why
Ian Cobain, a reporter with The Guardian, is one of very few people who know why a student arrested by armed British police officers in 2013 was finally acquitted this year of terrorism charges. His notebooks are being held by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. And if he writes — or even talks — about the reason that the student, Erol Incedal, 27, was acquitted, Mr. Cobain faces prosecution and possibly jail. THE NEW YORK TIMES

Turkish newspaper columnist fired over tweet critical of Erdoğan
Press freedom organisations have taken up the case of Turkish newspaper columnist Kadri Gürsel who was fired over a tweet critical of the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. THE GUARDIAN

As Obama visits Ethiopia, a cry for basic freedoms
Primary school teacher Hikma Lemma, 30, is pleased that President Obama is visiting his country and making an issue of the government’s crackdown on free expression. Lemma’s only regret: “He took too long to come. USA TODAY

Living like a fugitive to do journalism in Pakistan
In the first installment in an ongoing series examining the human cost of reporting the news around the world, the Washington Post profiles Pakistan’s most famous TV journalist, Hamid Mir, is undeterred from reporting despite ongoing threats and an ambush by gunmen. THE WASHINGTON POST

Georgia sues man for posting annotated state laws online
The state of Georgia suing Public.Resource.Org owner Carl Malamud for allegedly violating copyright by publishing the annotated versions of Georgia’s laws online. ENGADGET