Wael Abbas, a human rights activist focused on police brutality in Egypt, has been under arrest since May on charges of spreading fake news and “misusing social media.” Andy Hall, a labor rights researcher, has been fighting charges under Thailand’s computer crime laws because of a report published online that identified abuses of migrant workers.
You wouldn’t normally mention Egypt and Thailand in the same breath. But both countries underwent military coups within the last five years, and even among the many oppressive regimes in the world, they are going to extra lengths today to prosecute free speech.
Abbas and Hall are just two examples of hundreds of recent prosecutions. In 2017 alone, Egyptian security forces arrested at least 240 people based on online posts. Three years after the coup, Thai authorities had charged more than 105 people just for posting comments deemed offensive to the monarchy.