Index Index – International free speech round up 12/02/13

David Cecil, the British theatre producer who faced a legal battle with Ugandan authorities for staging a play about homosexuality has been deported from Uganda. Cecil’s legal team had been hoping to appeal the Ugandan court’s deportation ruling, but he was flown from the country unexpectedly on Monday, leaving behind his partner and two children. Cecil was arrested in September last year for his play The River and the Mountain, which explored the difficulties of being gay in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal. He faced two years in prison before charges were dropped, due to a lack of evidence but was rearrested last week. Cecil’s legal team are planning to contest the decision.

Stephen Wandera - AP

Playwright David Cecil has been deported from Uganda for his homosexual themed play

Women and children in Saudi Arabia have been arrested for protesting the conviction of their relatives, who are political prisoners. At least 26 women and five children at demonstrations in the cities of Riyadh and Buraida were taken into custody on 9 February. They had been protesting against the imprisonment of relatives they say have been held for years without access to lawyers or a trial. According to reports three of the arrested women are the wife, daughter and granddaughter of political activist Suleiman al-Rashudi, who was imprisoned in December for saying that protests were permitted in Islam during a lecture. He had previously spent five years in detention before being charged with financing terrorism, attempting to seize power and incitement against the king.

Haiti’s government has denied claims that entertainers were banned from performing at its annual three-day carnival for being critical of the state. In a press release, the office of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe strongly refuted the claims, after at least three Haitian bands said on 9 February they were banned from performing at the city of Cap-Haitien carnival for having songs critical of the government. President Michel Martelly openly mocked authorities during his music career as ”Sweet Micky”, by dressing in drag and mooning audiences as he lambasted the government during carnival performances. Amongst the rejected bands was Brothers Posse, who were included in the original line up before being removed by the carnival committee. Their song Aloral criticises the government for failing to implement improved policies on education, environment, law, employment and energy. Martelly said in a radio interview that the music didn’t promote a positive image of Haiti, saying ”We’re organising a party, not a protest.”

A judge has condemned Salford University’s attempts to sue a former lecturer for libel after he compared managers to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Senior officials were accused of abusing the high courts by a judge after they lost the defamation lawsuit filed in March 2010 against Dr Gary Duke, it was reported today (12 February). They attempted to sue their former colleague over posts he had written on a university blog for anonymous users, acting as a forum for criticism of the university’s services. Duke compared Salford University managers to a “bureaucratic dictatorship” in a blog post, saying that Hezbollah was “more accountable and transparent” than the university’s administration. Mr Justice Eady dismissed the case last week, saying it was up to individuals to seek libel action. The case is thought to have cost at least £100,000 and enlisted US court action to force internet company WordPress to hand over details of its users. Duke was fired in 2009 after spoof newsletters criticising university policy were handed around campus, and later lost a wrongful dismissal suit against the university. Salford University said they were considering an appeal against the verdict.

A Russian figure skating star is planning to sue a television commentator after he expressed doubts that the skater underwent spinal surgery as he claimed. Evgeny Plushenko said Eurosport commentator Andrei Zhurankov libelled him by voicing his doubts that he had undergone surgery during a weekend broadcast of the Four Continents figure skating world championships. Zhurankov referenced reports by some Israeli media which said there were no records of his surgery at local hospitals. The 2006 Olympic champion had been forced to withdraw from January’s European Championships, and his coach Alexei Mishin later said he had disk-replacement surgery in Israel. Plushenko’s attorney, Tatyana Akimtseva filed a lawsuit on 11 February.