Trump administration cuts off democracy activists in Belarus and Hong Kong

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has undercut democracy activists in Belarus and Hong Kong by abruptly ending funding to a U.S. internet freedom organization that provides technological tools to evade censorship and surveillance, according to cyber experts and lawmakers.The organization, a nonprofit called the Open Technology Fund, said the sudden disappearance of $20 million has forced it to cancel plans to deliver emergency aid to journalists and civil society groups facing authoritarian clampdowns in Belarus and Hong Kong.In Belarus, mass protests erupted after President Alexander Lukashenko said he had won re-election with 80 percent of the vote. When Lukashenko cracked down on protests and shut down more than 70 websites, pro-democracy activists and journalists sent urgent appeals by email for help from the Open Technology Fund, but the group had to turn them down because of the funding freeze, said Laura Cunningham, the fund’s president.”It was just crushing to have to say we don’t have the resources to help you,” Cunningham said. “We weren’t able to provide the kind of additional support that we normally would be able to.” Oct. 12, 202000:49The funding halt forced the Open Technology Fund to issue stop work orders for all of its projects in Belarus, …

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