The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Turkey's "unprecedented crackdown" on media following a failed coup in July has brought the total number of jailed journalists worldwide to the highest number since the New York-based group began taking an annual census in 1990.
As of December 1, there were 259 journalists behind bars around the world, including at least 81 in Turkey, says a December 13 statement.
Dozens of other journalists are imprisoned in Turkey, but the CPJ says it was unable to confirm a direct link to their work.
China, which was the world's worst jailer of journalists in 2014 and 2015, dropped to the second spot with 38 journalists in prison.
Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia are the third-, fourth-, and fifth-worst jailers of journalists, respectively.
According to the CPJ, this year marks the first time since 2008 that Iran was not among the top five worst offenders.
That’s because many of those sentenced in a postelection crackdown in 2009 have served their sentences and been released, the group says.
"Journalists working to gather and share information are performing a public service and their rights are protected under international law," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
"It is shocking, therefore, that so many governments are violating their international commitments by jailing journalists and suppressing critical speech."
According to the CPJ's census, nearly three-quarters of the journalists in jail globally face antistate charges.