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  • CPJ: Turkmenistan, Iran, Belarus Among World’s ‘Most Censored Countries’

    In a new report, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Turkmenistan, Iran, and Belarus as being among the ten worst countries for press censorship.

    The report released on Sep­tem­ber 10 by the U.S.-based media-free­dom watch­dog said repres­sive gov­ern­ments in these coun­tries “use sophis­ti­cat­ed dig­i­tal cen­sor­ship and sur­veil­lance along­side more tra­di­tion­al meth­ods to silence inde­pen­dent media.”

    In these ten coun­tries, author­i­ties ban or severe­ly restrict inde­pen­dent media and intim­i­date jour­nal­ists into silence with “impris­on­ment, dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal sur­veil­lance, and oth­er forms of harass­ment,” the report said.

    “Self-cen­sor­ship is per­va­sive,” it added.

    In the top three coun­tries — Eritrea, North Korea, and Turk­menistan — the media “serves as a mouth­piece of the state, and any inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism is con­duct­ed from exile. The few for­eign jour­nal­ists per­mit­ted to enter are close­ly mon­i­tored,” accord­ing to CPJ.

    Cult Of Per­son­al­i­ty

    In Turk­menistan, Pres­i­dent Gur­ban­gu­ly Berdy­mukhamme­dov “enjoys absolute con­trol over all spheres of life…including the media, using it to pro­mote his cult of per­son­al­i­ty,” the report said.

    “All media out­lets are owned or tight­ly con­trolled” by the Turk­men gov­ern­ment, and the author­i­ties sup­press inde­pen­dent voic­es by detain­ing, jail­ing, or forc­ing jour­nal­ists to flee the coun­try.

    Oth­er coun­tries on the list of the ten worst coun­tries 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.”

    Iran, along with Sau­di Ara­bia and Chi­na, was cit­ed for “jail­ing and harass­ing jour­nal­ists and their fam­i­lies, while also engag­ing in dig­i­tal mon­i­tor­ing and cen­sor­ship of the Inter­net and social media.”

    The oth­er coun­tries list­ed were Equa­to­r­i­al Guinea, Belarus, and Cuba.

    In Belarus, author­i­ties “exer­cise almost absolute con­trol over the media; and the few inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists and blog­gers face harass­ment and deten­tions,” the CPJ report said.

    The Belaru­sian state “sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly tar­gets influ­en­tial media out­lets and indi­vid­u­als, often in very pub­lic ways, arrest­ing jour­nal­ists, raid­ing news­rooms, and ini­ti­at­ing crim­i­nal probes for report­ing,” it added.

    The group not­ed that its list address­es only those coun­tries where the gov­ern­ment tight­ly con­trols the media.

    In war-rav­aged coun­tries such as Syr­ia, Yemen, and Soma­lia, con­di­tions for jour­nal­ists are “extreme­ly dif­fi­cult, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly attrib­ut­able sole­ly to gov­ern­ment cen­sor­ship,” CPJ said.

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