There are 211 journalists imprisoned worldwide, with Turkey, Iran, and China leading the repression pack, according to a study by the Committee to Protect Journalists released on Wednesday. Last year, CPJ recorded a record high of 232 imprisoned journalists. The latest numbers present a significant increase from the previous record, set in 1996, of 185 jailed journalists.
The 2013 report found that online journalists accounted for half of the imprisoned, while 79 of the jailed journalists worked in print. About a third of those jailed were freelancers. Worldwide, 124 journalists were jailed for “anti-state” crimes, like subversion or terrorism. In 45 cases, no charges at all were disclosed.
CPJ has tracked the number of jailed journalists annually since 1990. But they add this caveat: “CPJ’s list is a snapshot of those incarcerated at 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2013. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year….Journalists who either disappear or are abducted by nonstate entities such as criminal gangs or militant groups are not included on the prison census.”
Here are the 10 countries that are the worst perpetrators:
1. Turkey: 40
While the number of journalists in Turkish jails declined to 40 from 49 in 2012, Turkey still tops the list for the second year in a row. Among the journalists detained are dozens of Kurdish journalists on terror and anti-government related charges. The Gezi Park protests in May were also a turning point, as the government tried to strong arm many journalists into silence.
2. Iran: 35
The number of jailed journalists in Iran fell from 45 in 2012 to 35 in 2013. In particular, the government released several high-profile journalists and political activists in the lead up to the interim nuclear deal. Nonetheless, new arrests continue. In the picture above, activists from Reporters Without Borders demonstrate in front of the Iran Air airline company in Paris to condemn the jailing of journalists.
3. China: 32
China continues to keep tight media controls through repression and imprisonment. Journalist Chen Yongzhou, pictured here in handcuffs, was arrested on defamation charges in October. He later confessed on television to having filed false information in exchange for money. He remains in detention, though it is unclear where.
In 2013, Turkey, Iran, and China combines accounted for more than half of all journalists imprisoned worldwide.
4. Eritrea: 22
Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki (L) is one of the world’s most repressive rulers. In 2013, Eritrea jailed the most journalists of any African country, though the number slightly declined from 2012’s high of 28 imprisoned. None of the detained have been publicly charged with a crime, or brought before a court and tried.
5. Vietnam: 18
in 2013, Vietnam intensified a crackdown on bloggers, who serve as an alternative to the country’s largely-state controlled press. The number of jailed journalists rose from 14 to 18.
6. Syria: 12
There are 12 confirmed journalists imprisoned by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But an unknown dozens more have been abducted by armed opposition groups; according to CPJ, around 30 journalists were missing in Syria as of late 2013. Syria retains the distinction of being one of the most dangerous places in the world to report from.
7. Azerbaijan: 8
Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president Ilham Aliyev maintains tight control over the media. So far this year, Human Rights Watch has documented at least 7 cases in which journalists have been detained or sent to prison on bogus charges, reportedly in retaliation for their critical journalism. Despite the pressures and threats of imprisonment, some Azerbajjani journalists have not stayed silent. In this photo Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev speaks after accepting the International Press Freedom awarded by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2011.
8. Ethiopia: 7
The number of jailed journalists in 2013 rose to 7 in Ethiopia, where critical media and political freedoms are tightly controlled. Over the years, many more journalists have been forced into exile. While the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments are often in conflict, they share the status as the top two jailers of journalists in Africa.
9. Egypt: 5
The number of detained journalists in Egypt also rose this year, from none in 2012 to five as of December. Following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July, the new military backed government detained dozens of Egyptian and international journalists in a violent crackdown. Pictured above are dozens of Egyptian photojournalists taking part in a demonstration to condemn violence against them.
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