Turkey, Egypt world's worst for jailing journalists: watchdog

Turkey, Egypt world's worst for jailing journalists: watchdog
Turkey and Egypt are among the world's worst countries for jailing reporters, says the Committee to Protect Journalists, which criticised Trump's nationalistic rhetoric for legitimising a crackdown on "anti-state" media.
2 min read
13 December, 2017
Turkey remains the world's worst jailer for the second consecutive year [Getty]
The number of journalists worldwide imprisoned for their work has hit a record high, with Turkey and Egypt among the world's worst jailers.

In its annual prison census, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found 262 journalists were behind bars around the world in relation to their work, a new record after a historical high of 259 last year.

The worst three jailers, Egypt, Turkey and China, are responsible for jailing 134 - more than half - of the total. 

"The pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press," said the report's author Elana Beiser, who also accused Western powers of doing little to defend human rights.

"Far from isolating repressive countries for their authoritarian behavior, the United States, in particular, has cosied up to strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping," she said.

She added US President Donald Trump's nationalistic rhetoric and insistence on labelling critical media as "fake news" helped to legitimise 
such leaders in jailing journalists and silencing dissent.

Despite releasing some journalists in 2017, Turkey remains the world's worst jailer for the second consecutive year, with 73 journalists behind bars, compared with 81 last year.

Dozens more still face trial, and fresh arrests take place regularly, CPJ said.

More than half of the journalists imprisoned in Egypt, where the number in jail fell to 20 from 25 last year, are in poor health. Of those behind bars, 12 have not been convicted or sentenced for any crime.

Read more: Police State Egypt: The war on journalism

In Egypt and China, like Turkey, by far the most common accusation was anti-state activities, many under broad and vague terror laws, the CPJ report said.

The prison census accounts only for journalists in government custody and does not include those who have disappeared or are held captive by non-state groups, such as several Yemeni journalists that CPJ believes to be held by Houthis. These cases are classified as "missing" or "abducted".

However the census does include journalists held by governments who have not been seen or heard from in years. All seven journalists in Syrian regime jails have been there for at least four years, amid unconfirmed rumours of torture or execution, CPJ said.