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Willem Marx, right, launched his book 'Balochistan at a Crossroads' on March 13 in New York City. (CPJ/Sumit Galhotra)

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a series of commitments to safeguard press freedom during a meeting with a CPJ delegation last week. Among them was a pledge to speak out in support of media freedom and against attacks on journalists, particularly in high-conflict areas like Baluchistan. 

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (Beijing) published the findings of its annual visa survey last week. The findings are grim but come as no surprise following the Chinese government's showdown late last year with members of the foreign press. 

The scope of the National Security Agency's digital surveillance raises doubts about the U.S. commitment to freedom of expression online. By Joel Simon

Demonstrators march outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on October 26, 2013, to demand that Congress investigate the NSA's mass surveillance programs. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

Governments' capacity to store transactional data and the content of communications poses a unique threat to journalism in the digital age. By Geoffrey King

The U.S. National Security Agency's data center in Bluffdale, Utah, has at least 100,000 square feet of the most advanced data reservoirs. (Reuters)

Media surveillance and 'the day we fight back'

Today, a broad coalition of technology companies, human rights organizations, political groups, and others will take to the Web and to the streets to protest mass surveillance. The mobilization, known as "The Day We Fight Back," honors activist and technologist Aaron Swartz, who passed away just over a year ago. Throughout the day, the campaign will encourage individuals to contact their representatives, pressure their employers, and march for an end to government surveillance practices that sweep up huge amounts of data, often indiscriminately.

Chinese policemen manhandle a foreign photographer outside the trial of Xu Zhiyong, founder of the New Citizens movement, in Beijing on January 26. (AP/Andy Wong)

Since CPJ blogged on Monday that tougher tactics are emerging in China toward local and foreign media--and the situation looks to get worse--a few more developments have arisen.

Obama's legacy on the line with surveillance policy

Demonstrators march against government surveillance at a 'Restore the Fourth' rally on August 4, 2013, in San Francisco. (Geoffrey King)

When President Obama takes the lectern to discuss U.S. surveillance policy, as he is expected to do Friday, those hoping for sweeping reform are likely to be disappointed. As reported in The New York Times, the president appears poised to reject many of the recommendations of his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a brain trust of five experts he handpicked to study U.S. intelligence practices in the wake of disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. 

Everyone agreed at the panel discussion I took part in yesterday in Washington that the fate of about two dozen journalists working for The New York Times and Bloomberg News in China is unresolved. No one knows what will happen by the ostensible deadline of midnight, December 31, 2013, for their expulsion. I say ostensible, because maybe the deadline can be extended under some arcane rule known only to China's immigration officials. For now, those journalists are dangling in what has come to be called "visa purgatory," a term attributed to me but which really came from one of those journalists in purgatory, that is to say, waiting in Beijing for his visa to be renewed, with whom I spoke recently.

Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office pledging open government, but he has fallen short of his promise. Journalists and transparency advocates say the White House curbs routine disclosure of information and deploys its own media to evade scrutiny by the press. Aggressive prosecution of leakers of classified information and broad electronic surveillance programs deter government sources from speaking to journalists. A CPJ special report by Leonard Downie Jr. with reporting by Sara Rafsky

Barack Obama leaves a press conference in the East Room of the White House August 9. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

CPJ is disturbed by the pattern of actions by the Obama administration that have chilled the flow of information on issues of great public interest, including matters of national security. The administration's war on leaks to the press through the use of secret subpoenas against news organizations, its assertion through prosecution that leaking classified documents to the press is espionage or aiding the enemy, and its increased limitations on access to information that is in the public interest -- all thwart a free and open discussion necessary to a democracy.

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