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Free Expression News Roundup: August 20 - 27

This week in free expression news…

A cybercrime law in Jordan is threatening free speech and censoring minority communities. Earlier this month the King of Jordan, Abdullah II approved a law that criminalizes online content that is considered to be false news, hate speech, speech that undermines national unity, or that incites immorality. Article 12 of the law bans the use of Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, which provide internet users anonymity and security on web browsers. VPNs are often used by minority communities and political activists to connect with each other safe from government interference. Opponents of the law are calling it overly vague and are challenging it as a human rights and free speech violation, and many have expressed worry about the quick pace in which the law was approved. Read this article for more information.

A woman in Bangladesh was arrested following a post her son made on Facebook criticizing the government. Anisha Siddika was arrested after her son, who is currently living in the U.S pursuing a PhD, made a post voicing his opinions on the government's role in the war crimes trials of a leader in an Islamist political party in the country. She was charged under the Special Powers Act of 1974 for “planning to sabotage various vital installations, conspiracies, and sabotage against the government in protest against the arrest of multiple leaders and activists.” Rahman Saddika is claiming that his mothers’s arrest was an intimidation tactic based on his post. Organizations like Amnesty International are calling for her immediate release from arbitrary detention if they are unable to charge her with recognizable and evidenced offenses. Click here to learn more.

A journalist in Peru has been facing threats and violence for reporting on illegal mining in the Amazon. Manuel Calloquispe has received death threats, had his house surrounded by an angry mob, been physically assaulted, and had a machete thrown at him for his expose about the underground gold mining industry in Peru, which is often carried out by criminal networks without permits, who leave behind environmental damage to the water and forests of the Amazon. Even after facing attacks on his career and life, he continues to work to pursue truth about illegal operations and their impacts on the environment of the amazon, where he himself lives. Read this article for the full story.


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