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    Number of Imprisoned Journalists Reaches New High in 2017, Says Watchdog

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    According to a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a whopping 262 journalists worldwide were behind bars for doing their job - reporting the news.

    The report "is a snapshot" of journalists imprisoned as of 12:01 a.m. on December 1, 2017. It does not include reporters who died in custody or were released throughout the year.

    Painting a picture of "dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press," the report says the US' practice of getting close with "strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chinese President Xi Jinping," is just one reason behind the increasing cases.

    However, per Elana Beiser, the author of the report, US President Donald Trump is also to blame for the continued jailing of reporters.

    "President Donald Trump's nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism and insistence on labeling critical media ‘fake news' serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow such leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists," the report stated, adding, "nearly three-quarters of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, many under broad and vague terror laws."

    The total number of journalists imprisoned on a "fake news" charge worldwide jumped to 21, according to Beiser.

    More than half of the imprisoned are in Turkey, China or Egypt, which have jailed 73, 41 and 20 reporters, respectively.

    Dubbed the top jailer of journalists, CPJ noted that the crackdown on Turkish press members spiked after Turkey's failed coup in July 2016, which was later blamed on an alleged terrorist organization led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen.

    "Authorities accused some journalists of terrorist activity based solely on their alleged use of a messaging app, Bylock, or bank accounts at allegedly Gülenist institutions," the report reads.

    Though the CPJ has been conducting an annual survey of jailed journalists since the 1990s, Beiser indicated that this was the second year in a row in which the numbers rose. In 2016, the record stood at 259.

    Noted as one of the "most dangerous beat[s]," 87 percent of the journalists sitting in jail cells covered politics. Other findings indicated that while 97 percent of the journalists are local reporters, 29 percent are freelance writers.

    Countries that appeared on report for the first time in at least 12 months include, Algeria, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Iraq, Morocco, Niger, Pakistan, Republic of Congo, Somalia, Uganda and Ukraine.

    According to the CPJ, the longest-imprisoned journalist in its census was Yusuf Ruzimuradov, who was arrested on anti-state charges in 1999 in Uzbekistan.

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    Tags:
    Journalism, arrested journalists, journalist crackdown, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
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