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In a reflection of the times, more online journalists are jailed around the world than journalists from any other medium, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says in a new report.

According to CPJ's annual survey of imprisoned journalists, as of 1 December, 125 journalists were behind bars - two fewer than at the same point in 2007. Nearly half of them (56) were considered online journalists - bloggers, web-based reporters, or online editors - surpassing the number of print journalists for the first time.

Print reporters, editors, and photographers are the next largest category of jailed journalists, with 53 cases. Television and radio journalists and documentary filmmakers constitute the rest, says CPJ.

For the 10th consecutive year, the report lists China as the leading jailer of journalists, followed by Cuba, Burma, Eritrea and Uzbekistan. CPJ says 24 of the 28 jailed journalists in China worked online, such as prominent human rights activist and blogger Hu Jia, who is serving a three-and-a-half year prison term.

Cuba holds 21 writers and editors in prison - all but one of them arrested in the 2003 "Black Spring" crackdown on the independent press. Burma is detaining 14 journalists, including five arrested while trying to spread news about Cyclone Nargis.

About 13 percent of jailed journalists face no formal charge at all, says the report. The Eritrean authorities "have refused to disclose the whereabouts, legal status, or health of any of the (13) journalists they have imprisoned," CPJ says. Eritrea accounts for 13 of the 17 journalists worldwide who are being held in secret locations.

Six journalists are being detained in Uzbekistan, CPJ says, including Dzhamshid Karimov, a nephew of the country's President who was a reporter for independent news websites.

"Online journalism has changed the media landscape and the way we communicate with each other," says CPJ. "But the power and influence of this new generation of online journalists has captured the attention of repressive governments around the world, and they have accelerated their counterattack."

CPJ notes that 45 of the imprisoned journalists are freelancers, most of them working online, who "often do not have the legal resources or political connections that might help them gain their freedom."

Anti-state allegations such as subversion, divulging state secrets, and acting against national interests were the most common charges used to imprison journalists, the report says.

To read the full report, including detailed accounts of each journalist, see:

(10 December 2008)

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