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

15 December 2017

The 262 journalists behind bars is an increase from last year's 259.

According to CPJ, which has published this survey since 1990, for the second consecutive year, the number of journalists arrested for doing their job has reached a record high.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unleashed a stifling crackdown on dissent after a failed military coup in July 2016.

In CPJ's view, Donald Trump's nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism and constant attacks on the media as "fake news" provide a cover for legal charges and the jailing of journalists.

For the second year in a row, Turkey is the country where the most journalists are subject to criminal prosecution (73 detained journalists in a year). "The worst three jailers are responsible for jailing 134-or 51 percent-of the total", the CPJ said.

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According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), it is a record number of arrested.

Xi Jinping has weakened free speech rights in China during his time in leadership, arresting many journalists after forcing them to make false confessions, Reporters Without Borders said.

A record number of journalists around the world - at least 262 - are now imprisoned due to their jobs.

"Among them is photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, who was arrested covering a violent dispersal of protesters by Egyptian security forces and has been in pretrial detention for more than four years", states the report.

The commitee shows that 194 journalists, or 74 percent, are imprisoned on anti-state charges, many under broad or vague terror laws.

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According to the CPJ research, he and his 738 co-accused are charged with possessing weapons, illegal assembly, attempted murder, and murder.

The CPJ said 35 journalists had been jailed across the world without any publicly disclosed charge. Turkey incarcerated 73 journalists, compared of 81 a year ago.

"When President Trump denigrates journalists and dismisses reporting that he does not like as 'fake news, ' it undermines the value of the press in a democracy and sends a awful signal to those in power around the world who have few institutional or political restraints on their ability to stifle critical voices", Mahoney said.

The overwhelming majority, 87 percent, covered political issues, leading CPJ to called politics "by far the most risky beat" in the world. Other findings indicated that while 97 percent of the journalists are local reporters, 29 percent are freelance writers.

Poor prison conditions is another issue this year, with two journalists jailed in China, including Nobel laureate Liu Xiobo dying just weeks after being released on medical parole, and several others seriously ill.

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