Reporters Without Borders puts Russia's Putin, China's Hu on list of press 'predators'

PARIS (AP) — Media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders on Monday put Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao on its annual list of press freedom "predators."

The Paris-based group says its list is made up of "40 politicians, government officials, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that cannot stand the press, treat it as an enemy and directly attack journalists."

Newcomers to the annual list, released on World Press Freedom Day, include Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Taliban overlord Mullah Omar and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Targeting China's Hu, the group said he has enlisted China's police and propaganda departments "to prevent any free press emerging." It also says he refuses to release activists, bloggers and journalists detained during the 2008 Beijing Games.

Of Putin, Reporters Without Borders says: "Control is the key word for this former KGB officer: control of the state, control of the economic and political forces, control of geopolitical strategic interests and control of the media."

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Associated Press: "Their opinion is a mistake. The mistake can be put down to bias against Putin, or a lack of correct information."

Rwandan President Paul Kagame also appears: Reporters Without Borders says he "denigrates journalists" and that authorities "constantly harass" two Rwandan newspapers and prosecute their editors.

Others on the list include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Separately on Monday, three Algerian journalists were detained by police as they tried to organize a demonstration demanding the opening of the audiovisual sector to private radio and TV stations. One of them, Adlene Meddi, confirmed that they had been held and released.