China, Cuba, two African nations are top jailers of journalists; US is 6th
Ethiopian crackdown fuels worldwide increase;
is 6th among nations
New York, December 13, 2005-China, Cuba,
Eritrea, and Ethiopia are the world's leading jailers of journalists in 2005,
together accounting for two-thirds of the 125 editors, writers, and
photojournalists imprisoned around the world, according to a new analysis by the
Committee to Protect
The United States, which is holding journalists in detention
centers in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, rose to sixth among countries jailing
journalists, just behind Uzbekistan and tied with Burma, CPJ found.
"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. Seventy-eight journalists were jailed under
such charges, many by the Chinese and Cuban governments.
A sudden and
far-reaching crackdown on the Ethiopian press this fall fueled an increase in
the number of journalists jailed worldwide, according to CPJ's census of those
held on December 1, 2005. The global tally is three more than the 122 imprisoned
journalists CPJ found in its 2004 census. Twenty-four countries imprisoned
journalists in 2005, reflecting an increase from the 20 nations included in the
"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
CPJ's full list of imprisoned journalists.
the seventh consecutive year, China was the world's leading jailer of
journalists, with 32 imprisoned. Fifteen, or nearly half, of the cases in China
involve Internet journalists; more than three-quarters of the cases were brought
under vague "antistate" laws.
Cuba ranked second, with 24 reporters,
writers, and editors behind bars, most of them jailed in the country's massive
March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press. Eritrea was the
leader among African countries, with 15 journalists in prison, many of them held
incommunicado in secret jails for reasons the government would not fully
explain, according to CPJ research.
Neighboring Ethiopia imprisoned 13
journalists, all of whom were swept up by authorities seeking to quell dissent
amid civil unrest in November. Ethiopian police blocked most private newspapers
from publishing; raided newspaper offices, confiscating computers, documents and
other materials; and issued a "wanted list" of editors, writers, and
Uzbekistan ranked fifth among
countries, with six journalists in prison. Burma and the United States followed,
with five apiece. U.S. detention centers in Iraq were holding four journalists,
while the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo held one.
Here are other trends
and details that emerged in CPJ's analysis:
• Forty-one journalists
whose work appeared primarily on the Web or in other electronic forms were in
jail, accounting for just under one-third of the cases worldwide.
• Nine were charged with criminal
defamation, the second most common allegation used to imprison journalists
• Another five were jailed for
reporting what governments called "false" information.
• No charge was publicly disclosed in 11 cases. The
United States and Eritrea each account for five such cases.
• The longest-serving journalists in CPJ's census were
Chen Renjie and Lin Youping, who were jailed in China in July 1983 for
publishing a pamphlet titled Ziyou Bao (Freedom Report). Codefendant
Chen Biling was later executed.
One of the imprisoned Chinese journalists, Shi Tao, was
honored with CPJ's 2005 International Press Freedom Award. A freelance
journalist for Internet publications and an editor for Dangdai Shang
Bao, a business newspaper, Shi is serving a 10-year sentence for
"leaking state secrets abroad." Shi was imprisoned in November 2004 for posting
online notes detailing the government's instructions on how the news media were
to cover the 15th anniversary of the military crackdown in Tiananmen Square. The
government did not classify the instructions as secret until after the
CPJ is waging a campaign seeking Shi's release, collecting
signatures from prominent journalists and press freedom advocates. Two of three
imprisoned journalists honored by CPJ since 2003-Burma's Aung Pwint and Cuba's
Manuel Vázquez Portal-were freed due in part to the international advocacy
campaigns of CPJ and others. The third, Burmese documentary filmmaker Nyein
Thit, remains in jail.
CPJ believes that journalists should not be
imprisoned for doing their jobs. The organization has sent letters expressing
its serious concerns to each country that has imprisoned a journalist.
addition, CPJ sent requests during the year to Eritrean and U.S. officials
seeking details in the cases in which journalists were held without publicly
disclosed charges. Eritrean officials did not respond directly to CPJ, but
Information Minister Ali Abdu told Agence France-Press that the jailings were an
internal issue that did not warrant explanation. 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. A U.S. military spokesman would not discuss the detention in
CPJ's list is a snapshot of journalists incarcerated at
midnight on December 1, 2005. It does not include the many journalists
imprisoned and released throughout the year; accounts of those cases can be
found at www.cpj.org. CPJ conducted its annual census one month earlier
than in past years to provide a more timely year-end analysis.
CPJ considers journalists
imprisoned when governments deprive them of their liberty because of their work.
Journalists remain on CPJ's list until the organization determines with
reasonable certainty that they have been
Journalists who either disappear or are abducted
by nonstate entities, including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are
not included on the imprisoned list. Their cases are classified as "missing" or
"abducted." Details of these cases are also available on CPJ's Web
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