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The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and its Freedom of the Press Committee are gravely concerned by reports that Hong Kong has refused to renew the working visa of Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club’s Vice President Victor Mallet after he chaired a talk by activist Andy Chan at the Hong Kong FCC in August. Chan’s opponents had criticized the talk and also applied economic pressure to the FCC Hong Kong by threatening to cancel the market-rate lease on the building it occupies.

These actions are an affront to press freedom. We stand in solidarity with our Hong Kong colleagues and call on the government to offer an explanation for denying Mallet a working visa and in the absence of that, rescind the decision.

• The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Tokyo

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Kirsten Han is editor-in-chief of New Naratif, an online news organization covering Southeast Asia conceived in 2017 as a place “where we could tell Southeast Asian stories, ones that wouldn’t fit in foreign news publications or local publications that might have censorship.” One of her main concerns, shared by tech firms like Facebook and Twitter, is the government’s intention to introduce legislation to tackle fake news. “It’s very problematic. If there’s no clear definition of what the government calls deliberate online falsehoods, the law could turn out to be very broad.”

In April, New Naratif was denied permission to register as a company or legal entity and was accused by the government of “being used by foreigners to pursue a political activity in Singapore.” Yet Han remains defiant, and continues to publish on the platform with her network of contributors.

• TIME magazine, June 22, 2018

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The Cambodian government is extending its crackdown on “fake news”, just weeks before the increasingly authoritarian government of Prime Minister Hun Sen heads to the polls.

A new directive aimed at fake news posted on websites and social media platforms could see violators jailed for two years and fined US$1,000, according to a report in the Khmer Times. The widening powers come at a time when Cambodia’s free press has been under increasing pressure.

The recent sale of the Phnom Penh Post, an English- language daily considered one of the last independent media organisations in the country, was seen as a major blow to freedom of expression. The paper was sold to a Malaysian investor who is the chief executive of a PR firm that has worked on behalf of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The sale of the Post followed the closing of the Cambodia Daily last September, after the paper was saddled with a disputed $6.3m tax bill. The final edition ran with the headline: “Descent into Outright Dictatorship.”

Hun looks set to extend his 33-year grip on power in elections later this month, after having dissolved the opposition party and jailed his main critics.

• The Guardian, July 6

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Bangkok, Sept. 11, 2018—Thai authorities on Monday shut down a panel discussion at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, marking the sixth such event the country’s ruling military junta has canceled since seizing power in a May 2014 coup.

The event, entitled “Will Myanmar’s Generals Ever Face Justice for International Crimes?,” was shut down after Thai police delivered a letter to the club’s management saying the discussion could be used by “third parties” to cause unrest and endanger national security, according to reports and an FCCT statement protesting the cancellation. The letter was delivered after participants and attendees had arrived at the event, according to the same reports.

The FCCT statement said there were “no grounds whatsoever for such suspicions” and that Thai authorities had “overreacted” in shutting down the event. Journalists who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity said that plainclothes authorities took pictures of attendees and panelists at the event before it was closed down.

• Committee to Protect Journalists, Sept. 11

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A court in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh sentenced land-rights activist and citizen journalist Do Cong Duong to 48 months in prison on Monday for “disturbing public order,” his lawyer told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

Duong, 54, was detained on Jan. 24 by the police of Tu Son commune in Bac Ninh while he was filming a forced eviction. He met his lawyer, Ha Huy Son, on April 5 and was charged with “disturbing public order.”

According to the Vietnamese Political Prisoner Database, Duong was warned by authorities in September 2017 that he was sharing on Facebook “content that distorts the truth, impacts upon the credibility and reputation of other citizens and organizations” and “content that contradicts the directions and policies of the Party and the law of the state.”

Vietnam’s one-party communist government is currently detaining at least 130 political prisoners, including rights advocates and bloggers deemed threats to national security, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. It also controls all media, censors the internet, and restricts basic freedoms of expression.

During the first eight months of 2018, at least 28 rights activists and bloggers have been put on trial, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms, including prominent blogger and democracy advocate Tran Huynh Duy Thuc.

Thuc, who is serving a 16-year sentence, has been on a hunger strike for nearly a month to protest police pressure on him to plead guilty in exchange for amnesty.

• Radio Free Asia, Sept. 17