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U.S. cited on list of nations jailing journalists

China, Cuba, Eritrea and Ethiopia jail more journalists than any other country, but the United States has risen to sixth place because of detentions in Iraq, a journalism watchdog group said Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

China, Cuba, Eritrea and Ethiopia jail more journalists than any other country, but the United States has risen to sixth place because of detentions in Iraq, a journalism watchdog group said Tuesday.

The top four countries accounted for two-thirds of the 125 imprisoned editors, writers and photojournalists as of Dec. 1, according to the report by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Fifth was the central Asian state of Uzbekistan, with six jailed reporters, followed by the United States, which crept up the list due to journalists it is holding in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Tied in sixth place was Myanmar.

The number of journalists held by the United States rose from one last year to five this year.

“We’re disturbed to see the number of jailed journalists rise, and we’re particularly troubled that the list of the worst abusers now includes Ethiopia and the United States,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “Journalists covering conflict, unrest, corruption, and human rights abuses face a growing risk of incarceration in many countries, where governments seek to disguise their repressive acts as legitimate legal processes.”

Reuters, CBS journalists held
Three of the four journalists currently detained by U.S. forces in Iraq worked for Reuters, while the fourth is an employee of CBS News who has been detained since April despite an Iraqi court saying his case does not justify prosecution.

A journalist for Arabic satellite channel al Jazeera is being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

“Journalists jailed in Iraq were deemed security threats by U.S. and Iraqi officials, according to U.S. military officials, but those officials would not disclose specific charges or supporting evidence,” the CPJ said.

The group said its report was a snapshot of the situation on Dec. 1 and the figures did not include many journalists imprisoned during the year and released.

Among the most prominent of those is former New York Times reporter Judith Miller who spent 85 days in a U.S. jail earlier this year rather than name a source in a case involving the leaking of a CIA operative’s name to the media.

Beijing arrests Net journalists
China topped the list for the seventh year in the row, with 32 imprisoned, of which 15 were Internet journalists. Cuba is holding 24 reporters, most of them jailed after a March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and independent media, the CPJ said.

“’Antistate’ allegations, including subversion, divulging state secrets, and acting against the interests of the state, were the most common charges used to imprison journalists worldwide,” the group said in a statement.

East African neighbors Eritrea and Ethiopia, which are locked in a tense border dispute with each other, jailed 15 and 13 journalists respectively, according the CPJ report.