The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide has hit another new record, which it says reflects a "dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press."
In its annual survey of journalists in jail published on December 13, the New York-based media watchdog found 262 journalists behind bars around the world in relation to their work, a new record after a historical high of 259 last year.
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.
CPJ says that for the second consecutive year more than half of those jailed for their work are behind bars in Turkey, China, and Egypt, which are responsible for jailing 134 of the total.
It says the United States and other Western powers failed to pressure the three countries' leaderships into improving the "bleak climate" for press freedom.
"Far from isolating repressive countries for their authoritarian behavior, the United States, in particular, has cozied up to strongmen such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping," the group says.
CPJ lists five Iranian journalists among the world total of 262. However, Reporters Without Borders said in August a total of 28 journalists and citizen journalists are jailed in Iran. The discrepancy comes from the methodology of including citizen journalists in the count.
Iran has long established a sophisticated method of controlling media, whereby clear red-lines prohibit free flow of information and opinions. This might explain why the number of imprisoned journalists is low compared to countries like Turkey, where there was much more media freedom until recently.
In 2009-2011 dozens of Iranian journalists were in prison and dozens more fled the country.
CPJ says a crackdown on the Turkish press accelerated after a failed coup attempt in July 2016. As a result, the country is the world’s worst jailer of journalists for the second consecutive year with 73 of them behind bars.
The top jailers of journalists also include Azerbaijan, where 10 of them were found behind bars.
There were five journalists incarcerated in both Iran and Russia, four in Uzbekistan, and two in both Kazakhstan and Pakistan.
The CPJ census shows that Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan each imprisoned one journalist.
Globally, nearly three-quarters of journalists are jailed on antistate charges, many under "broad and vague terror laws," the media watchdog says.
And 35 journalists worldwide were jailed without any publicly disclosed charge.