Iran is officially the worst jailer of journalist, according to a survey published by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York based organisation that promotes press freedom and journalist rights.
The report notes that the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide “shot up more than 20 percent to its highest level since the mid-1990s,” thanks largely to the clampdown on journalists in the Middle East and North Africa.
The CPJ study, which was made public on Thursday, listed “179 writers, editors, and photojournalists” behind bars, an increase of 34 compared to the group’s 2010 report.
“Iran was the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars, as authorities kept up a campaign of anti-press intimidation that began after the country’s disputed presidential election more than two years ago,” CPJ added.
Eritrea, China, Burma,Vietnam, Syria, and Turkey trailed behind Iran as the world’s worst imprisoners of journalists.
The review suggested that Iran had “maintained a revolving cell door” since its rigged 2009 presidential election, “freeing some detainees on furloughs even as they make new arrests.”
“Journalists freed on furloughs often post six-figure bonds and endure severe political pressure to keep silent or turn on their colleagues.”
According to the CPJ, more than half of Iran’s detained journalists “are being held on anti-state charges.”
“Antistate charges such as treason, subversion, or acting against national interests are the most common allegations brought against journalists worldwide. At least 79 journalists were being held on such charges,” the survey found.
Based on the report’s findings, most of the jailed journalists (86) who felt the wrath of their regimes were those whose work had appeared online. “Print journalists constituted the second largest professional group, with 51 jailed worldwide. The other detainees were from radio, television, and documentary filmmaking.”
The CPJ notes that for “the first time in more than a decade, China did not lead or jointly lead the list of countries jailing journalists.”
“That it was supplanted in 2011 was a reflection of the high numbers in Iran rather than a significant drop in China,” it continued.