10 countries cited for extreme media censorship

Washington: Eritrea is the world's worst country for press censorship, a media watchdog said Tuesday in a report which also cites extreme measures in nine other countries including North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia.

Under the three worst regimes Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan the media "serves as a mouthpiece of the state, and any independent journalism is conducted from exile," said a report by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Other countries on the list of the 10 worst regimes for media "use a combination of blunt tactics like harassment and arbitrary detention as well as sophisticated surveillance and targeted hacking to silence the independent press," the report said.

Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, and Iran were cited for "jailing and harassing journalists and their families, while also engaging in digital monitoring and censorship of the internet and social media," the group said.

The rankings were based on factors including restrictions on privately owned or independent media; criminal defamation laws; restrictions on the dissemination of false news; blocking of websites; surveillance of journalists by authorities; license requirements for media; and targeted hacking or trolling.

"The internet was supposed to make censorship obsolete, but that hasn't happened," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.

"Many of the world's most censored countries are highly wired, with active online communities. These governments combine old-style brutality with new technology, often purchased from Western companies, to stifle dissent and control the media."

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