In its annual prison census
, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) cites 179 writers, editors and photojournalists behind bars worldwide. The figure, an increase of 34 over the 2010 population, represents the highest number of journalists in prison in 15 years and the biggest single-year jump in a decade.
The report calls Iran the "world's worst jailer," with 42 journalists currently in prison as a result of a continuing crackdown on dissent that began in 2009 following the disputed presidential elections. The report notes that the tally does not reflect numerous other Iranian journalists
who are not currently in prison but who were incarcerated earlier as a result of Iran's "revolving cell door," and who remain subject to intimidation.
The worldwide total is the highest since 1996, when CPJ recorded 185 journalists in prison. The report attributes this year's increase to widespread jailings across the Middle East and North Africa, and to the suppression of ethnic Kurdish journalists in Turkey.
The report records a gradual decline in Europe and Central Asia, where the imprisonment of eight journalists represents the lowest tally for the region in six years.
Eritrea, China, Burma, Vietnam and Syria also ranked among the world's most egregious jailers.