Syria, Iraq, Egypt most deadly in ‘atrocious’ year for journalists

New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists says 211 were imprisoned and 70 killed in 2013

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Syria, Iraq and Egypt were the most deadly countries for journalists in 2013, which was described as an “absolutely atrocious” year for attacks on the media, a press freedom watchdog says.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said last year saw “a near record” of 211 journalists imprisoned and 70 killed because of their work, AP reported.


That was slightly fewer than in 2012, when 232 journalists were in jail and 72 were killed.

“The last two years have been absolutely atrocious, the worst ever in CPJ's history,” said Joel Simon, the CPJ’s executive director, according to AP.

Almost all of the killings last year were committed with complete impunity, the report says.

Conditions in the Middle East and neighboring areas were especially bad, according to the group’s annual ‘Attacks on the Press’ report.

Syria was ranked as the most deadly country for journalists in 2013, with 28 killed in 2013. Simon blamed that in part on the deadly civil war, where “there is no respect whatsoever for the work of the media.”

Ten died in Iraq and six in Egypt, the CPJ said. In addition to the 70 deaths, the report lists the killings of 25 other journalists in circumstances where the motive was unclear.

Egypt experienced the greatest deterioration in press freedom in 2013 between the regime of President Mohammed Mursi and the state of emergency imposed after the military ousted him. Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Mideast and north Africa coordinator, said for the first time Egypt was among the top jailers of journalists in 2013, and it was the third deadliest country with six journalists killed.

Turkey was the world’s “leading jailer of the press,” the report says, with 40 journalists behind bars. After anti-government protests in the summer, nearly 60 people who reported on them were either fired or forced to resign.

Simon said "anti-terror" charges are the main factor in the increasing imprisonment of journalists globally.

The report also took sharp aim at sprawling government surveillance by the U.S. and others as a growing threat.

(With The Associated Press)

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