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China imprisoned 48 journalists in 2019, the most of any nation, watchdog reports

Protesters on World Press Freedom Day (美國之音特約記者 湯惠芸拍攝/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Chinese government imprisoned at least 48 journalists in 2019, more than any other country, a rights watchdog said on December 11.

The annual report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said at least 250 journalists were imprisoned worldwide this year, compared to 255 last year.

Turkey came second with 47 journalists imprisoned in 2019, down from 68 last year, followed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, both with 26.

Iran, which saw significant protests this year, put 11 journalists in prison this year, the report said.

Prominent economic reporter Mohammad Mosaed was arrested after tweeting during an Internet shutdown intended to suppress news of protests against high gas prices.

Russia had seven journalists in custody, four of them because of their work in occupied Crimea.

China’s total rose by one since last year, the New York-based CPJ said, noting that “the number has steadily increased since President Xi Jinping consolidated political control of the country.”

“A crackdown in Xinjiang Province — where a million members of Muslim ethnic groups have been sent to internment camps — has led to the arrests of dozens of journalists, including some apparently jailed for journalistic activity years earlier,” the report said.

It added that “authoritarianism, instability, and protests” this year have prompted an increase in the number of journalists imprisoned in the Middle East.

About 8 percent of the journalists imprisoned globally are women — down from 13 percent last year, the report said.

Politics, human rights, and corruption were the subjects that most often led to the jailing of journalists, it said.

The report does not include those who have been released earlier or journalists captured by non-state entities such as militant groups.