A near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work, including two Reuters reporters whose imprisonment in Myanmar has drawn international criticism, according to a report released yesterday.
There were 251 journalists jailed for doing their jobs as of Dec 1, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in an annual study. For the third consecutive year, more than half are in Turkey, China and Egypt, where authorities have accused reporters of anti-governmental activities.
"It looks like a trend now," the report's author, Elana Beiser, said in an interview. "It looks like the new normal."
The number of journalists imprisoned on charges of "false news" rose to 28, up from 21 last year and nine in 2016, according to the CPJ, a US-based nonprofit that promotes press freedom.
The report criticized US President Donald Trump for frequently characterising negative media coverage as "fake news," a phrase that is also used by leaders against their critics in countries like the Philippines and Turkey.
The study was published the same week that Time magazine named several journalists as its annual "Person of the Year."
That group included Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were imprisoned one year ago on Wednesday, and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two months ago.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty in September of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison. They had been investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys amid an army crackdown that has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees into Bangladesh.