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The latest from Freedom House:

The U.S. government’s access to Verizon customers’ phone records and the internet data collection operation code-named PRISM have sparked debate over the tradeoffs between national security and citizens' privacy rights.

During a recent visit to the Netherlands, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that “sexual minority rights are not violated in Russia,” using the term sexual minorities to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Putin’s words contradict his own actions and the policies of his administration. The Russian government encourages violent attacks on LGBT people, enforces a nearly universal de facto ban on efforts by LGBT activists to hold events in public spaces, and restricts the basic rights of LGBT people and their advocates by outlawing the so-called propaganda of homosexuality and “nontraditional sexual relations.”

On June 11, the director of the Brazilian newspaper Hora H was brutally shot 44 times by four hooded men in Nova Iguaçu, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Freedom House expresses deep concern over persistent violence against journalists in Brazil and encourages authorities to investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.

President Mugabe’s unilateral proclamation of an election date is a clear violation of the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and Zimbabwe’s constitution and threatens to undermine the democratic rights of the country’s citizens. Freedom House calls on all members of Zimbabwe’s government to ensure that the necessary electoral reforms are implemented before elections take place.

Freedom House welcomes the letter from 46 Members of the European Parliament to European Union (EU) foreign ministers expressing deep reservations about the proposal to allow Russian officials to enter the EU without a visa.

Government backlash against social media is becoming more common worldwide. In their efforts to control the new platforms, despotic leaders—in the Arab states to Turkey’s south especially—have tried throwing users behind bars, legislating what can be said online, and even arguing that social media should be banned on religious grounds.

The Greek government’s sudden decision to shut down the state broadcaster, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), is the most serious in a series of worrying developments for media freedom in the country. The move deals another devastating blow to the ability of the media to provide citizens with information from a variety of viewpoints in a country that is already suffering due to an unprecedented economic crisis.

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