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Freedom of Expression

In “Dark Day For Media Freedom,” RSF’s Turkey Rep Jailed

By Staff of RSF - Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is stunned to learn that an Istanbul court today ordered the pre-trial detention of its Turkey representative, Erol Önderoglu, and two other journalists on a terrorism charge. RSF reiterates its unconditional support for its representative and calls on the Turkish authorities to drop all charges and release them. “This is another dark day for media freedom in Turkey,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

Militant Group Publishes Global Hitlist Of Bloggers & Activists

By Jason Burke in The Guardian - An Islamic militant group in Bangladesh has issued a hitlist of secular bloggers, writers and activists around the world, saying they will be killed if its demands are not met. The list will raise fears that Islamic militant violence within the unstable south Asian country could take on an international dimension. The targets in the list include nine bloggers based in the UK, seven in Germany, two in the US, one in Canada and one in Sweden. Some are Bangladeshi citizens living overseas. Others are dual nationals or citizens of the western nations. The list was issued in a statement on the internet by the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a group that has been blamed for a series of murders of bloggers and activists in Bangladesh over the last 18 months. All those killed have been prominent critics of extremist religious doctrines, especially in Islam.

#FreeAJStaff: Travesty Of Justice Continues

By Omar Ashour in Al Jazeera - "Shocked", "sickened", and "appalled" were appropriate words to describe theinternational reactions - and some of the local ones - to the second sentencing of Al Jazeera journalists and their colleagues in a Cairo court on Saturday. "The verdict today ... sends a message that journalists can be locked up for simply doing their job, for telling the truth, and reporting the news. And it sends a dangerous message that there are judges in Egypt who will allow their courts to become instruments of political repression and propaganda." Those were words of Mohamed Fahmy's lawyer, Amal Clooney. The more disturbing part is that her words are an understatement. The Committee to Protect Journalistsissued a report in June 2015 that concluded that Egypt's imprisonment of journalists is at an all-time high.

West Point Prof Calls On Military To Target Critics

By Spencer Ackerman in The Guardian - An assistant professor in the law department of the US military academy at West Point has argued that legal scholars critical of the war on terrorism represent a “treasonous” fifth column that should be attacked as enemy combatants. In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”. Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.

Police Target Journalists & Organizers In Police Brutality Protests

By Unicorn Riot - Protests in Denver continue in the wake of the killing of Paul Castaway by Denver police officers. Paul Castaway, a 35 year old enrolled member of the Rosebud Lakota nation, was killed July 12, 2015 after his mother called police for “mental help assistance.” His last words were, “What’s wrong with you guys?” as he held a knife to his own neck. Police claimed that Castaway ran at them with a knife, but local witnesses contradict police claims. Also contradicting the police claims is a yet to be released video reviewed by a local reporter who stated that it showed Castaway standing still at a distance when police shot him. On Monday, July 20th, protesters continued to take the streets in Denver demanding justice for Paul Castaway’s death and gathered outside a Police Chiefs meeting.

China Detains Dozens Of Rights Lawyers Amid Sweeping Crackdown

By Matt Sheehanin Huffington Post - Chinese police detained or questioned over 100 lawyers and human rights advocates this weekend, human rights NGOs reported. Many of those detained belong to a broad network of lawyers involved in the "rights defense movement" –- a specific term in Chinese that encompasses everything from defending dissident artists to helping farmers resist the government acquisition of their land. It was the latest wave of detentions in an ongoing crackdown on Chinese civic institutions, said Maya Wang, a China researcher with Human Rights Watch. “In the past two years, the government has targeted each pillar of China's nascent civil society -- the Internet, press, activists, NGOs,” Wang told The WorldPost.

Spaniards Continue Protesting As New ‘Gag Law’ Takes Effect

By Ashoka Jegroo in Waging Non-Violence - Spain’s controversial new “Public Security Law,” known as “La Ley Mordaza,” or the “gag law,” officially went into effect on July 1 following protests around the country by thousands of protesters. The law, which has been the target of much criticism from journalists, lawyers associations, the opposition Socialist Party, UN experts and human rights groups, criminalizes and penalizes many common acts of protest like protesting outside of government buildings, disrupting public events, photographing or being openly disrespectful to police officers, trying to stop an eviction, and using social media to make calls for a protest. Those who break this new law face fines ranging from 100 euros ($111) to 600,000 euros ($665,139) and may also face up to one year in jail for some offenses.

Hackers Reveal Spying Software Used By Govt’s To Silence Dissent

By Kit O'Connell in MintPress News - Last weekend, news broke on social media of a massive hack against a major, controversial security software company that sold surveillance software to government agencies. A hacker who attacked another security firm last year is taking credit for the audacious break in that saw hundreds of gigabytes of stolen data leaked onto bittorrent. Hacking Team, the Italian software company that fell victim to the unknown hackers, proudly billed itself as avendor of surveillance software to police forces, with the motto, “Rely on us.” Reporters Without Borders hadalready cited Hacking Team as one of their “enemies of the Internet.” But, as the hack revealed, the corporation’s clients also included governments from countries to which sales are banned by the United Nations as a result of their repressive regimes’ repeated human rights’ violations.

TPP Leak: Countries Converging On Anti-User Copyright Rules

By Jeremy Malcolm in EFF - A draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's "Intellectual Property" chapter from May 11, 2015 hasrecently been leaked to journalists. This is the fourth leak of the chapter following earlier drafts of October 2014, August 2013, and February 2011. The latest leak is not available online and we don't have a copy of it—but we have been briefed on its contents. In most respects the chapter follows previous drafts pretty closely; for example, the text onDRM circumvention and copyright term are both largely unchanged. But there is one area in which significant progress has been made since the last draft, and this is in the text on intermediary liability rules.

Egypt Will Be Worse Than Pre-2011 With New Terrorism Law

By Sarah El-Deeb in Business Insider - After a series of stunning militant attacks, Egypt's government is pushing through a controversial new anti-terrorism draft bill that would set up special terrorism courts, shorten the appeals process, give police greater powers of arrest and imprison journalists who report information on attacks that differs from the official government line. The draft raised concerns that officials are taking advantage of heightened public shock at last week's audacious attacks to effectively enshrine into law the notorious special emergency laws which were in place for decades until they were lifted following the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Rather than reviewing security policies since the attacks, officials have largely been focusing blame on the media for allegedly demoralizing troops and on the slowness of the courts.

Spain: March Against New Law Criminalizing Protest

By Mary Scully - Despite massive protests in cities across Spain for months, the regime has installed a new security law criminalizing protests. It’s a sweeping, draconian law that does more than silence opposition to the EU-IMF austerity policies but is a frontal assault on civil liberties & democracy. Activists are given steep fines for protests in front of government buildings; fines for obstructing police officers evicting families & seniors from public housing sold to private investors; fines for taking photos of police engaged in abusive behavior; fines for showing lack of respect for police; the homeless & prostitutes will be fined; & immigrants & refugees will be returned to Morocco without the due process required by international law.

Protest Is The New Terror: Law Enforcement Criminalizing Dissent

By Derek Royden in Occupy - The unique moment created by anti-police brutality protests throughout the U.S. last year – and coming on the heels of a federally coordinated effort to dismantle Occupy encampments in 2011 – revealed that federal police agencies, especially the FBI, working with local police have directed their resources as much against protesters, dissenters and those practicing and civil disobedience as they have against the threat represented by terrorists, whether homegrown “lone wolves" or organized outside groups. While the recent NSA reform bill passed in Congress represents a victory for civil liberties and privacy advocates, there's still a ways to go. Because while the right to dissent remains a fundamental American freedom, the fear of terrorism being openly exploited by law enforcement has allowed police to resurrect COINTELPRO in all but name.

How U.S. Law Enforcement Is Working To Criminalize Dissent

By Derek Royden in Occupy - It’s well established that the FBI surveilled civil rights and other activists from Martin Luther King Jr. to leaders of the National Lawyers Guild as part of its wide ranging COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) during the 1960s and early 70s. The use of planted news stories, faked communications to create dissension within activist groups, informants to make dubious cases and even assassinations was revealed by a group of activists called the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, who broke into a bureau office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971 and found ample evidence of the agency’s misdeeds. This is generally seen as an era of terrible government overreach in the name of fighting “communism.”

Egyptian Journalist Shawkan On His 600 Days In Prison

By Samantha Libby in Committee To Protect Journalists - "Photography is not just a hobby for me. It is an actual way of life. It's not just how you hold a camera and snap a picture. It's the way that you see life and everything around you." So reads a letter written by Mahmoud Abou Zeid, an Egyptian freelance photojournalist also known as "Shawkan," to mark his 600th day behind bars. In the letter, which was published on Monday, Shawkan describes the physical and psychological toll that prison has taken on him, but maintains that he simply wants to be free to practice photojournalism: "My passion is photography, but I am paying the price for my passion with my life. Without it, a part of me is missing."

Interview: Firebrand Records To ‘Fight On The Cultural Front’

By Michael Fox and Ryan Harvey in TeleSur - Artist and activist Ryan Harvey, co-founder of Firebrand Records with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, gave teleSUR en exclusive interview about the new distribution label. ​Harvey, who is also a teleSUR blogger, explains that over the next year Firebrand hopes to build the roster and help artists achieve more recognition through both promotion of their releases, tours, and other projects, and through cross-pollination from the collective nature of the label: "Firebrand is a new project because of it's scope: we are both international and multi-genre, but more importantly, we are offering a mechanism whereby artists don't have to worry about political or social censorship surrounding revolutionary ideas about human rights, for instance, to hope to get real professional promotion and distribution."
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