MANILA, Philippines – At least 251 journalists are behind bars for doing their work, according to a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report released Thursday, December 13.
China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia imprisoned more journalists this year than in 2017, while Turkey remained the world's worst jailer for the third year in a row, imprisoning at least 68 journalists, according to the report.
"The terrible global assault on journalists that has intensified in the past few years shows no sign of abating. It is unacceptable that 251 journalists are in jail around the world just for covering the news," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement.
"The broader cost is being borne by all those who care about the flow of news and information. The tyrants who use imprisonment to impose censorship cannot be allowed to get away with it."
About 70% of journalists are jailed on anti-state charges, the report said, while 28 are charged with "false news" – an increase from 9 in 2017.
The report also found politics as the most dangerous beat for journalists, followed by human rights. About 33 female journalists were imprisoned globally, 4 of them in Saudi Arabia for writing about women's rights.
Meanwhile, the report said there was an increase in the overall number of journalists jailed in China as a result in part of Beijing's persecution of the Uighur ethnic minority.
CPJ's prison census only includes journalists in government custody and excludes those who have disappeared or are held captive by "non-state actors."
The report comes at a time when freedom of the press has been under attack in many countries worldwide. Time magazine recently named several journalists – dubbed "The Guardians" – as its "Person of the Year" for "taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts, for speaking up and for speaking out."