At least 274 journalists are in jail worldwide as of December 1, 2020, in relation to their work, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, exceeding the previous high of 272 jailed in 2016. The report said this marks the "fifth consecutive year that repressive governments have imprisoned at least 250 journalists".
China, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the "worst jailers", the report noted. Forty-seven journalists are in jail in China, 37 in Turkey, 27 in Egypt, and 24 in Saudi Arabia.
Worldwide, 67 percent of the jailed journalists were imprisoned on "anti-state charges" such as terrorism or membership in banned groups. No charges were disclosed in 19 percent of the cases, the report said, and more than half of these cases are in Eritrea and Saudia Arabia. Twelve percent were imprisoned on charges of false news, and 12 percent on "retaliatory charges".
In the United States, no journalists were jailed at the time of the report, but "an unprecedented 110 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020 and around 300 were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the US Press Freedom Tracker".
The report lists only four journalists in jail for India: Aasif Sultan, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, and Siddique Kappan.
In a press release, the CPJ's executive director Joel Simon said: "It’s shocking and appalling that we are seeing a record number of journalists imprisoned in the midst of a global pandemic. This wave of repression is a form of censorship that is disrupting the flow of information and fueling the infodemic. With Covid-19 raging through the world’s prison, it’s also putting the lives of journalists at risk."