Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  July 27, 2012  / No comments

In the weekly Freedom of Speech Roundup, Sampsonia Way presents some of the week’s top news on freedom of expression, journalists in danger, artists in exile, and banned literature.

Morsi Meter

Two young Egyptian men established the website Morsi Meter to gauge whether or not newly-elected president Mohamed Morsi is keeping his promises. Photo: Facebook.

In this week’s Freedom of Speech Roundup, journalists around the world are confronted with both new tools and new obstacles. YouTube makes it easier to conceal witness identities while the American presidential campaigns make it harder to print a good quote. Journalists in Egypt establish a site to monitor their new leader’s progress, while Britain’s attempt to protect journalists from defamation suits receives a lukewarm response.

Elsewhere, Chinese authorities look to save face by censoring coverage of deadly flooding, while websites run by Pakistani religious minorities face stern censorship. And in Russia, eyebrows were raised with promises of a transparent trial for jailed punk band Pussy Riot and a live courtroom webcast to prove it.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei continues his legal battles with authorities, and we direct you to the tales of ten famous literary exiles in history. Follow the links to read these and other free-speech stories from the week of July 27th.

Arab Spring Journalism Advances with Morsi Meter

Poynter. A new site created by two young Egyptians tracks the new president’s completed campaign promises. The verdict on whether or not Morsi has completed his objectives will be crowd-sourced from visitors. Read here.

China’s ‘Fault Lines’: Yu Jie on his new Biography of Liu Xiaobo

New York Review of Books. “A top public security official told me that if you write this you’ll be in big trouble. It’s the main reason I left China. I have a wife and ten-year-old child and couldn’t take the risk of hurting them.”
Read here.

Latest Word on the Campaign Trail? I Take it Back

The New York Times. According to a recent expose, journalists covering the US presidential elections have to agree to quote approval from party headquarters before they can make an interview, or go to print. Read here.

Half-Hearted Bid to Reform Libel Law

The New York Times. U.S. author Rachel Ehrenfeld was punished by an “archaic” British libel law for her book Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed—and How to Stop It. She appealed, and a new U.S. law was made to protect writers from “libel tourism.” There’s now a revised British libel law in parliament, but Ehrenfeld wonders if it does enough. Read here.

Face Blurring Comes into Focus for Journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists. Youtube has added a new post-production tool: Blur Faces. The tool still needs some tweaking, but is a valuable, free resource for journalists in regions where witnesses are punished for talking to the media.
Read here.


Video: Karthik Subramanian of The Hindu takes you through a tutorial of YouTube’s new blur faces feature.

China: Flood Coverage Censored, Ai Weiwei Loses Appeal

Bangkok Post. Beijing’s propaganda chief has ordered Chinese media to stick to good news about recent floods, after the death of at least 37 people sparked fierce criticism of the government. Read here.

The New York TImes. The Chaoyang District Court has rejected Ai Weiwei’s argument that Chinese tax authorities had violated their own procedures when they raided his home studio last year under charges of tax evasion. He plans to continue the appeal. Read here.

Russia: Yaroslavl Court Bans Livejournal, Judiciary plans to broadcast ‘transparent’ Pussy Riot trial

Global Voices. In a preview of the Internet Blacklist, law enforcement ordered the shut-off of several websites, including the popular blogging platform Livejournal earlier this week. Read here.

AFP. A Russian court promised to show unprecedented transparency in the trial of anti-Putin punks Pussy Riot by broadcasting it on the Internet, but the defense sees the decision as “suspicious.” Read here.

Pakistan’s Religious Minorities are Silenced Online

The New York Times. The Pakistani authorities are increasingly censoring websites run by religious minorities, while terrorist groups “enjoy a vast and unchecked web presence.” Read here.

The Stories of 10 Famous Literary Exiles

Flavorwire. From Dante Alighieri to Victor Hugo to D.H. Lawrence, this list of writers who fled or were expelled from their home countries spans centuries. Read here.

Obscenity Trials in Turkey Get Snuff’d

Melville House. In Turkey, the Ayrıntı Publishing House and the Sel Publishing House (which distributes the Turkish translation of former City of Asylum/Pittsburgh writer-in-residence Horacio Castellanos Moya’s She Devil in the Mirror) were on trial for obscenity, until the judge postponed the hearing until 2015. Read here.

Concerned About Journalists’ Safety in Mali

All Africa. Article 19 has released a letter expressing concern over several instances of harassment, arrest, and phone tapping of journalists in Mali, and calls for an end to impunity in the country. Read here.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

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