The number of journalists imprisoned for their work has increased for the second straight year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. About a third of the jailed journalists were involved in Internet dissemination of information.
The press advocacy group found that one-hundred thirty-four reporters were imprisoned as of December 1st, 2006. Of the total, some forty-nine were Internet journalists -- the highest number the Committee to Protect Journalists has ever tallied.
For the eighth consecutive year, China is the world's leading jailer of reporters, with thirty-one imprisoned. Nineteen cases involve Internet journalists. One of them, Shi Tao, is serving a ten-year sentence for posting notes online detailing government instructions on how to cover the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Cuba ranks second on the list with twenty-four reporters, writers, and editors behind bars. Most of them were jailed in the country's massive March 2003 crackdown on dissidents and the independent press. Nearly all had filed news and commentary to overseas Web sites.
Eritrea leads African countries in jailing reporters, with twenty-three in prison. The journalists are being held in secret locations with no charges filed against them. The Committee to Protect Journalists says their well-being is of growing concern.
Neighboring Ethiopia has imprisoned eighteen journalists. Most of them are being tried for treason after being arrested by authorities in a November 2005 crackdown on dissent.
Other countries that have imprisoned journalists include Burma, which is holding seven reporters, and Uzbekistan, which is holding five.
The United States believes freedom of the press is a fundamental human right. "All free societies," says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "carry the responsibility to press restrictive governments to allow an open press."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.