At least 251 journalists around the world are behind bars for their work, as “authoritarian regimes increasingly use imprisonment to silence dissent,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The annual survey of journalists in jail published on December 13 by the New York-based media watchdog found that Turkey, China, and Egypt were responsible for jailing more than half of all journalists.
The report said politics was “the most dangerous beat” for journalists, followed by human rights.
The census accounts only for journalists in government custody on December 1, not those imprisoned and released throughout the year or those who have disappeared or are held captive by nonstate groups.
With the overall number of jailed journalists at 262 in December 2017 and 259 the previous year, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said “the terrible global assault on journalists that has intensified in the past few years shows no sign of abating."
“The tyrants who use imprisonment to impose censorship cannot be allowed to get away with it," Simon said in a statement.
Turkey remained the world's worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with at least 68 behind bars – all of them on antistate charges.
Amid “global antipress rhetoric,” CPJ's census found 70 percent of journalists were imprisoned on antistate charges and 28 percent were charged with "false news" -- up from 9 percent in 2016.
The report said an increase in the number of journalists jailed in China was the result in part of Beijing's “wave of persecution” of the Uyghur ethnic minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
“At least 10 journalists in China were detained without charge, all of them in Xinjiang, where the United Nations has accused Beijing of mass surveillance and detention of up to a million people without trial,” the CPJ said.