December 14, 2017; Gillette News Record
Given the president’s open hostility to the press, his demonstrated disrespect of its role in civil society demonstrated by our own president, and his lack of voiced championship of human rights and press freedoms, it’s a matter of growing concern that journalists appear to be being imprisoned in ever-higher numbers.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, which promotes press freedom worldwide and tracks violence against journalists, reports that the number of journalists imprisoned in 2017 was the highest to date, at 262. The list can be accessed here. The second-highest number was recorded in 2016.
The number is computed by counting the number in custody on December 1st of each year, so it does not reckon those who were arrested and released over the course of the year.
“The pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press,” said editorial director, Elana Beiser.
Turkey, China, and Egypt were the worst offenders, with 73 journalists behind bars in Turkey, 41 in China, and 20 in Egypt. Despite Turkish President Erdoğan’s recent crackdown on journalists, whom he suspects of being in collusion with organizers of a failed coup, President Trump has welcomed him to the White House and praised him as a friend—with no mention of the human rights issue. He also made no public acknowledgement of arrests of journalists during his trip to China.—Ruth McCambridge