Wednesday, October 25, 2006

U.S. Rank on Press Freedom Slides Lower

U.S. Rank on Press Freedom Slides Lower - "Serious threats against the artists and publishers of the Muhammad cartoons, which caricatured the prophet of Islam, caused Denmark, which was also in first place last year, to drop to 19th place. Yemen, at 149th place, slipped four places, mostly because of the arrests of journalists and the closure of newspapers that reprinted the cartoons. Journalists in Algeria, Jordan, Indonesia and India were harassed because of the cartoons as well.

Some poor countries, such as Mauritania and Haiti, improved their record in a global press freedom index this year, while France, the United States and Japan slipped further down the scale of 168 countries rated, the group Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.

The news media advocacy organization said the most repressive countries in terms of journalistic freedom -- such as North Korea, Cuba, Burma and China -- made no advances at all. Iran ranks 162nd, between Saudi Arabia and China. The report said conditions in Russia and Belarus have not improved.

Although it ranked 17th on the first list, published in 2002, the United States now stands at 53, having fallen nine places since last year. France, 35th, dropped five places since last year because of searches of media offices and journalists' homes, as well as physical attacks on journalists during a trade union dispute, the group said.

In Lebanon, a series of bomb attacks targeting journalists and publishers in 2005, and Israeli military attacks last summer, contributed to a drop in the country's ranking from 56th to 107th in the past four years."

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