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

NSA will continue mass surveillance program for 180 days with court approval
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved an 180-day extension of the NSA’s cell phone metadata collection plan late Monday night, in accordance with the provisions of the USA Freedom Act. FORBES

U.S. families of Americans jailed in Iran seek release
The families of two Americans imprisoned in Iranian jails traveled to Vienna to plead with officials and take advantage of the media spotlight to make their case for their loved ones’ release. NBC NEWS

Journalist Baransu gets 10 months in jail for insulting Erdoğan, faces travel ban
Outspoken journalist Mehmet Baransu was handed a 10-month prison sentence for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Twitter Tuesday. TODAY’S ZAMAN

Saudi Arabia: Pakistan’s controversial Zaid Hamid faces 1,000 lashes and 8 years in jail for criticizing kingdom
A Pakistani political commentator has been reportedly sentenced to eight years in jail with 1,000 lashes after allegedly delivering a speech criticising Saudi Arabia’s regime. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES

Vietnam releases imprisoned writer ahead of party chief’s US visit
Authorities in Vietnam have released a writer linked to a banned political group from prison five months ahead of the end of his four-year sentence for anti-state crimes, a move one fellow activist suggested was linked to an upcoming visit by a high-ranking official to the U.S. RADIO FREE ASIA

Two more Chinese netizens charged with ‘subversion’ over online satire
Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong are moving ahead with the trial of a netizen for “incitement to subvert state power” after he posted “sensitive” tweets to social media. RADIO FREE ASIA

China passes new security bill stressing Hong Kong’s ‘responsibilities’
The revised law is also the first to address cybersecurity, providing Beijing with the legal means to further criminalise online expression. Article 26 deals with preventing and punishing “dissemination of unlawful and harmful information” and defending “cyberspace sovereignty.” HONG KONG FREE PRESS