Internet journalists jailed 'like never before'

One in three journalists serving prison sentences around the world are behind bars not for splashing stories on the front pages of national newspapers – but for publishing on the Internet.

Analysis from the Committee to Protect Journalists reveals Internet journalists are the second likeliest group of media professionals to be in prison, behind offline print journalists.

In total, there are now 49 journalists who have printed online, via e-mail or blog, who have been jailed for their actions – representing the highest number sine records began, CPJ said.

Most have been deprived off their freedoms for publishing so-called ‘anti-state’ allegations, with the likeliest charges being ‘subversion’, ‘divulging state secrets’ or ‘acting against national interests’.

Worryingly for media freedom, the crackdown on Web-based journalists coincides with an increase in the number of reporters who have been jailed without trail or charge for their actions.

“We’re at a crucial juncture in the fight for press freedom because authoritarian states have made the Internet a major front in their effort to control information,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director.

Speaking later to AP, the executive of the New-York based group warned the consensus proves “authoritarian states are becoming more determined to control the Internet.”

"It wasn't so long ago that people were talking about the Internet as a new medium that could never be controlled," he said.

"The reality is that governments are now recognising they need to control the Internet to control information."

CPJ’s list is a snapshot of journalists, bloggers and media contributors incarcerated at midnight on December 1, 2006.

Journalists remain on CPJ’s list until the organization determines with reasonable certainty that they have been released or have died in custody.

Journalists who disappear or are abducted by non-state entities, including criminal gangs, rebels, or militant groups, are not included on the imprisoned list: such cases are classified as "missing" or "abducted."

Since 2002, there are 12 journalists whose whereabouts are still unknown, including ITV cameraman Fred Nerac, who has not been seen since he was abducted in Iraq with Terry Lloyd, the veteran news reporter who was killed in the incident.


13th December 2006

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