The Committee to Protect Journalists says the past two years have been "absolutely atrocious" for the killing and imprisonment of journalists, with Syria the deadliest place to work and Turkey the number one jailer.

The international media watchdog said at Wednesday's launch of its annual report on "Attacks on the Press" that wide-ranging government surveillance, the unchecked murder of journalists and indirect political and commercial pressures on the media are major threats to press freedom.

It said Egypt experienced the greatest deterioration in press freedom last year.

CPJ executive director Joel Simon said 2013 saw "a near record" of 211 journalists imprisoned and 70 killed — slightly lower than the 2012 record of 232 journalists jailed and 72 killed — a tie with the deadliest year of the Iraq war.