Freedom of Expression in the News: Weekly Round-up, 20-25 February 2011

Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden

The chief magistrate, Howard Riddle, ruled today that founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was to be extradited to Sweden under the European arrest warrant procedure. Assange fears that extradition to Sweden is just one stepping stone to get him to the USA where Washington is currently trying to find offences to charge him of in relation to release of US embassy cables by Wikileaks.  The judge mentioned that this fear was unfounded, given that Sweden would have to first ask the permission of the UK before Assange was ever extradited to USA.

 Armistice Day poppy-burning demo ‘sickened’ observer

The trial of Mohammad Haque and Emdadur Choudhury, members of Muslims Against Crusades, began this week. They were accused of burning three oversized plastic poppies in a way that was likely to cause ‘harassment, harm or distress’. The prosecution alleges that their actions went beyond the bounds of legitimate protest and freedom of expression.

 Libya unrest: UN condemns Gaddafi’s speechOn Monday, Colonel Gaddafi addressed his nation, vowing to fight until his own death. He urged people to take to the streets and fight those responsible for the protests. On Tuesday, the UN Security Council condemned Colonel Gaddafi’s conduct towards the protestors and demanded an immediate end to the violence. As well as expressing deep regret at the death of hundreds of civilians, the Security Council underlined the need for Gaddafi to respect the rights of his people to peaceful assembly, free expression and press freedom.

 Nigeria: We Will Pass ‘Freedom of Information’ Bill This Week

The Joint Committee on the Freedom of Information Bill has stated that the Bill would be pass into law in the next few days. Although it first came to the National Assembly in 1999 and was passed in 2007, there was subsequent inaction. It is thought that the Bill will reverse the current lack of openness on the part of the government. Henry Dickson, co-chairman of the Joint-Committee claimed that the Bill would guarantee freedom of information as stipulated in the Constitution.

Zimbabwe charges 46 with treason for watching videos of Egypt protests

46 activists, trade unionists and students have been charged with treason following a raid by the police of a meeting on Saturday. Police seized a video projector, DVDs and a laptop through which the group was watching videos of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. It is said that some of those charged were beaten by police. The charges are particularly serious as treason can be punishable by death in Zimbabwe. The authorities allege that the participants took turns to make speeches calling for a revolt against Mugabe’s authoritarian rule akin to those in the Middle East.


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