Freedom of speech continued to be marred by violence in 2013 in Pakistan with at least five journalists reported to be killed for their work, a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Wednesday.
According to the report, Pakistan was ranked as the fourth most dangerous country, behind flashpoint countries such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt in terms of journalists killed.
At least five journalists were killed in Pakistan in connection wit their work this year, although the situation was comparatively better than 2012 when seven journalists were killed for their work. However, the situation is no where near satisfactory.
Besides the murder of five journalists for their work, one other journalist died in an incident of target killing though the motive behind it remains unclear. Three other journalists, including two Balochs, were also killed in the year but the motives remained unclear.
Three foreign journalists were also expelled from Pakistan during the year. Declan Walsh of The New York Times was forced to leave the country on 72 hours ultimatum.
The correspondent of The Hindu and Press Trust of India were denied visa extensions, however their replacements were subsequently allowed visas.
Syria deadliest country for journalists
Syria was termed as the most dangerous country for journalist, with 28 journalists killed in the line of duty during the year while motives behind the murder of two other journalists was unconfirmed.
Iraq and Egypt were the second and third most dangerous country for journalist with 10 and six journalists killed during the year, respectively.
India was sixth with three confirmed cases of journalists being murdered for their work.
Press freedom under threat in US
The real surprise came from United States where freedom of press deteriorated dramatically in 2013. Leak classified information on secret surveillance programs by NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that US has been long spying on its own citizens and media houses. It was also revealed that Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed the phone records of nearly two dozen Associated Press telephone lines and the emails and phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen.
During the year US continued prosecuting whistle blowers, who leaked classified information to Public. In August 2013 last year, a military judge in US sentenced Chelsea Manning (Army Pvt. Bradley Manning) sentenced for 35 years in prison on the charges of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. In June 2013, Snowden was indicted for leaking large trove of documents related to secret surveillance programs to The Washington Post and the Guardian, among other news outlets. A former FBI agent Donald J Sachtleben was also sentenced for 43 months in prison on charges of leaking information to The Associated Press about a disrupted terrorist plot in Yemen.
US was also the on the top of the list for requesting access to Facebook accounts in the first six months of 2013. It inquired into as many as 21,000 Facebook accounts and 79 per cent of the requests were complied by the Facebook.
Jail master China
The situation was worst in China, where 32 journalists were jailed in 2013. It ranked third on CPJ’s annual census of journalists imprisoned around the world, behind only Turkey and Iran.
In September, Chinese authorities once again tried to cub pervasive digital platforms that Chinese citizens used to express themselves. Under the new rules, people who posted comments deemed libelous and that were reposted 500 or more times faced defamation charges and up to three years in prison. Subsequently, hundreds of social media users including some journalists were arrested although most were released by the end of 2013.