PEN’s Free Expression Digest brings you a daily curated round-up of the most important free expression-related stories from around the web. Please send your feedback and suggestions to [email protected]

Japan silent on missing journalist in Syria
Japanese government officials declined to comment Thursday on a reported ransom demand for Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who has been missing since summer in Syria. Reporters Without Borders said that those holding Yasuda are threatening to kill him or sell him to another armed group. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan is doing its utmost to deal with the situation, but he wouldn’t confirm any details. AL JAZEERA AMERICA

Reporter’s body found after disappearing in Bangladesh
Police have retrieved journalist Aurangajeb Sajib’s body from a river in Bangladesh three days after he went missing. The 45-year-old’s remains were found on Wednesday afternoon, said police, who ruled Sajib’s death a suicide. The journalist’s brother told, “My brother was not someone who would commit suicide. He had no enemies either.” BDNEWS24.COM

China court jails former financial journalist
A Chinese court sentenced the former head of one of the country’s best known financial newspapers to four years in prison on Thursday, closing a massive media corruption case as Beijing tightens control over the press. Shen Hao, former president of 21st Century Media, was convicted of extortion and blackmail, “forced transactions” and embezzlement, the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court said in a statement on its official social media account. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Argentine government fires ‘activist’ media regulator
Argentina’s new government fired the country’s chief media regulator yesterday, saying the head of the AFSCA television and radio watchdog commission was openly acting against the country’s new center-right President Mauricio Macri. Regulator Martin Sabbatella had led previous president Cristina Fernandez’s crackdown on then opposition media group Clarin. Early this month he claimed Macri, who was inaugurated on Dec. 10, was orchestrating a “mafia plot” to get rid of him. REUTERS

Facebook’s Free Basics service put on ice by India’s telecoms regulator
India’s telecoms regulator has ordered mobile operator Reliance Communications to stop offering Facebook’s “Free Basics” service to its customers, due to concerns over net neutrality, the question of whether operators – or, indeed, Facebook – should be allowed to decide which online services can be offered without data charges. THE GUARDIAN

Nigerian journalist wins UN Foundation Prize
A Nigerian journalist, Augustina Armstrong-Ogbonna, has been awarded the United Nations Foundation Gold Prize for Development and Humanitarian reporting. Ms. Armstrong-Ogbonna, a freelance journalist with Radio Nigeria’s Radio One, won the Gold medal for her reportage on neglected communities along the Lagos coastline that are bearing the drastic impact of sea rise as well as threats of displacement. PREMIUM TIMES

On Taiwan, Facebook, and the politics of trolling on the Chinese Internet
China and Taiwan are both societies in which the Internet and social media have been very visible in recent years. Social media played a major role in mobilizing activists during the Sunflower Movement, mainly by way of Facebook and PTT. And if Internet censorship and authoritarian restrictions on protest in China have not allowed for social media to facilitate social movements as it has in other parts of the world, there are still phenomena in which netizens become a force to call for public justice. GLOBAL VOICES