The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international press rights group, says China and Egypt were the world's worst jailers of journalists in 2015, while the number of journalists imprisoned around the world "declined modestly from record levels recorded in the past three years."
The New York-based group said in a new report released December 15 that it had identified 199 journalists in prison worldwide because of their work this year, down from 221 the previous year.
As of December 1, China led the way by imprisoning 49 journalists, followed by Egypt (23), Iran (19), Eritrea (17), and Turkey (14), the CPJ said.
Azerbaijan, where President Ilham Aliyev’s government has sparked international outrage with a broad crackdown on dissent, led all former Soviet republics by imprisoning eight journalists in 2015, including investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, the CPJ said.
Among other former Soviet republics cited in the CPJ report, Uzbekistan jailed four journalists, while Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan each imprisoned one journalist in 2015.
The report noted Ashgabat's jailing of Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a correspondent with RFE/RL's Turkmen Service who has been in custody since July.
It also cited the case of Sergei Reznik, a local blogger in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don who in January was sentenced to 18 months in jail after being convicted of insulting an official and making a false legal complaint on the Internet.
At the time of his conviction, he was serving an 18-month prison term on similar charges. The new sentence extended his imprisonment until November 2016. Reznik denies all charges, saying that both cases against him are politically motivated.