Group says 262 journalists imprisoned worldwide, record high

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An advocacy group for journalists said Wednesday that 262 people are imprisoned around the world for their work gathering and reporting the news, a record high.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the number of imprisoned journalists is the highest since it began conducting its annual survey of journalists behind bars in the early 1990s. It said the 2017 number topped last year's total of 259 imprisoned journalists, the highest number until then.

"The pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press," said the group's editorial director, Elana Beiser.

The three countries where the most journalists are imprisoned are Turkey, China and Egypt, the organization said. There are 73 journalists behind bars in Turkey, 41 in China and 20 in Egypt, it said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year began a crackdown on journalists he suspected of having links to the organizers of a failed coup.

The crackdown has continued, the advocacy group said, with Turkish authorities accusing some journalists of terrorist activity based solely on their reported use of a messaging app, Bylock, or bank accounts at institutions supposedly linked to the coup plotters.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, which is based in New York, said Erdogan's government "appeared to pay little price for its repressive tactics," noting that U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Erdogan at the White House in May and has praised him as a friend.

The organization also noted that Trump, a Republican, visited China in November and made no public reference to human rights despite recent abuses and the arrests of journalists.

The group said its list is a snapshot of those journalists who were incarcerated for doing their jobs on Dec. 1. The list does not include journalists who were imprisoned and released throughout the year.