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12/8/2006
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A Third Of Jailed Journalists Web-based, Numbers Increasing

Authoritarian countries trying to control information on the Web have driven a record increase in the number of journalists jailed

China and other authoritarian countries trying to control information on the Web have driven a record increase in the number of journalists jailed, with a third either bloggers or Web-based editors or reporters, a free press group said.

The number of journalists imprisoned increased this year for the second consecutive year, up to 134 as of Dec. 1, nine more than in 2005, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said. China, Cuba, Eritrea and Ethiopia were the top four jailers among the 24 nations that imprisoned journalists.

Print reporters, editors and photographers continued to make up the largest group of imprisoned journalists, with Internet journalists comprising the second largest category, the CPJ said. Also increasing in number were journalists whose work appeared primarily via e-mail or another electronic form.

The CPJ said that the fight for press freedom was at a crucial juncture because of authoritarian nations that have made the Internet a major front in efforts to control information. China was singled out as leading the charge, with the most number of journalists in jail for the eighth consecutive year.

"China is challenging the notion that the Internet is impossible to control or censor, and if it succeeds, there will be far-ranging implications, not only for the medium, but for press freedom all over the world," Joel Simon, executive director of the CPJ, said in a statement.

Overall, the most common charges used to jail journalists were subversion, divulging state secrets and acting against the interests of the state. In total, 84 journalists were imprisoned under these charges, many in China, Cuba and Ethiopia. The group also found an increasing number of journalists jailed without any charge or trial at all.

The United States was also criticized in the CPJ annual report for imprisoning two journalists without charge in the country's war on terrorism. The journalists included freelance photographer Bilal Hussein and Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj.

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