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U.S., Myanmar tie at 6th in countries jailing journalists
China holds on to lead with 32, panel report says

Katharine Q. Seelye New York Times Dec. 14, 2005 12:00 AM

The United States has tied with Myanmar, the former Burma, for sixth place among countries that are holding the most journalists behind bars, according to a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Each country is jailing five journalists. The United States is holding four Iraqi journalists in detention centers in Iraq and one Sudanese, a cameraman who works for Al-Jazeera, at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. None of the five has been charged with a specific crime.

This year, China topped the list of countries with the most journalists, 32, in jail, many of them for activity on the Internet. This is the seventh year in a row in which China has led the list.

Fifteen of the Chinese journalists are being held under national-security legislation for writing critically about the Communist Party online, the report said.

A total of 125 writers, editors and photojournalists were held in jails around the world on Dec. 1, the report said. The tally is three higher than were held on Dec. 1, 2004, but it is not the highest number in the 25 years that the committee has been keeping track. The highest was 182 journalists jailed in 1995.

Cuba ranked second with 24, Eritrea was third with 15, Ethiopia was fourth with 13 and Uzbekistan ranked fifth, with six journalists in jail.

No American journalists are being held in jails anywhere in the world, the committee said. The survey is taken on a single day each year and does not count those who may have been held and released at other points during the year. Thus, Judith Miller, a former reporter for the New York Times who served 85 days in jail this summer for refusing to reveal a confidential source, was not included because she was not incarcerated on Dec. 1.

The United States has made the list before because other journalists have been in jail on Dec. 1 for refusing to reveal their sources. But Ann Cooper, executive director of the committee, said this was the first year in which the United States had been on the list for cases in which journalists had been held without specific charges being filed against them.