In focus

Freedom of expression is protected under the US Constitution’s First Amendment: which prohibits laws that abridge free speech, the freedom of the press and the right to peacefully assemble. However events in recent years, particularly under the administration of Donald Trump have raised deep concerns. National security is used increasingly to justify free speech and privacy restrictions with overbroad surveillance powers undermining protections for whistleblowers, activists and journalists. Criminal prosecution of whisteblowers in the US undermines government transparency. The arrest and imprisonment of Bradley Manning, a Wikileaks source, convicted under the Espionage Act in 2013, but released by Barack Obama in 2017, and the ongoing case against Edward Snowdon undermine the right to freedom of information. With heightening political tensions, the right to protest has come under attack in the US where peaceful protests have drawn excessive force from police. While the US has a relatively free press, verbal attacks against independent media outlets undermine press freedom.