Freedom of Speech Roundup

by Sampsonia Way    /  May 25, 2013  / 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.

High Times

After the full legalization of marijuana in Colorado, initiatives to criminalize its media depiction, like this magazine cover, have been enacted in Denver and may expand to the state level. Photo: Michael McCullough via Flickr.

Marijuana Opponent’s New Plan: Kill First Amendment

Salon. Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado, “pot foes” have pushed a bill that will criminalize depictions of the plant in advertisements and media content. The bill awaits the governor’s final signature. Read Here.

Scale of government’s AP records seizure surprises many, CPJ Protests in Letter to Attorney General

The LA Times. “The Obama administration has zealously prosecuted leaks involving national security, but the secret collection of records for 20 Associated Press phone lines reaches a new level.” Read Here.

CPJ. In a letter to the US Attorney General, CPJ “vigorously protests” the secret seizure of Associated Press phone records; not only because the action undermines press freedom, but also because it sets a “terrible example for the rest of the world.” Journalists including Christiane Amanpour and Tom Brokaw have also signed the letter. Read Here.

Bahrain’s “Blogfather” emerges from hiding

Committee to Protect Journalists. “The prominent opposition blogger suddenly emerged from hiding last week, announcing he had been granted asylum in the United Kingdom, news sources reported.” Read Here.

Writing freedom comes to Krakow

New Eastern Europe. Writing Freedom, the biannual PEN International WiPC Conference & ICORN Network Meeting, took place in Krakow, Poland this May 14-17. The nearly 200 guests included writers, poets, journalists, bloggers, and academics from over 50 countries. Read Here.


Highlights from the 2013 Writing Freedom conference, plus interviews with author Chenjerai Hove; Chair of the ICORN Board, Peter Ripken; President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul; and Chair of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Marian Botsford Fraser. Video: biurofestiwalowe via YouTube.

The Upcoming Iranian Election: Might Save Books, Curtailing Internet Freedom

Index on Censorship. “Over the past eight years, writers and publishers have been caught in a web of forbidden topics, names, phrases and words. No one in the industry can anticipate what will and will not be allowed by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.” Read Here.

Al Bawaba. As next month’s presidential elections approach, internet speeds have slowed to a crawl. The government denies involvement, but methods for getting around the filters have also been blocked. Read Here.

Prison Sentence for UAE Netizen

Reporters Without Borders. Netizen Abdullah Al-Hadidi has received a 10-month prison sentence for tweeting in April about the trial of 94 UAE citizens accused of endangering national security. His violation is considered a crime against the state and thus, no appeal will follow. Read Here.

Facebook Makes Human Rights Commitment

Human Rights Watch. Facebook has joined the Global Network Initiative, which means that they have pledged to abide by a set of human rights principles for respecting the rights to freedom of expression and privacy. The company has also agreed to independent, third-party monitoring to demonstrate their compliance with the principles. Read Here.

Algerian Newspaper Editor Accuses Government of Censorship

The Washington Post. An editor has accused Algeria’s government of censorship after it blocked the publication of his two newspapers. Read Here.

India: Three Newspaper Employees Murdered

Reporters Without Borders. A proof-reader, driver, and officer manager for the Bengali-language paper Dainik Ganadoot were all stabbed at the newspaper’s headquarters on May 19 by two unidentified assailants. 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.

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