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perspective

Journalism is a risky business

Last year was one of the most dangerous years to be a journalist. Eighteen journalists were killed around the world in 2017, and a record number were imprisoned. Threats against the media have seemingly become common, even in the West. And don't expect that to change in 2018.

Data published by press-freedom organizations indicate that the threats faced by journalists are increasing. Reporters Without Borders, an organization that monitors the treatment of the media by authorities in 130 countries, has already recorded the deaths of three journalists this year, while 189 others are behind bars.

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The Washington Post

The press freedom we know in the United States is not the norm in most parts of the globe. This map shows where in the world journalists can freely report — and where they cannot. In 2016, global press freedom declined to its lowest point in 13 years, according to Freedom House. Just 13 percent of the world’s population lives in a place with a free press.

In 2017 alone, at least 262 journalists were imprisoned, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Nearly half of those arrests happened in five countries — including Iran, where I was jailed for year and a half and denied all my rights.

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The Washington Post

Here are the stories of just a few of the hundreds of journalists who have been imprisoned around the world.

Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo

Who Burmese journalists | Where Rangoon, Burma | When Arrested Dec. 12, 2017

Nyein Chan Naing, Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were accused by the Burmese government of having “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media.” The pair are being held under the country's Official Secrets Act, but they have yet to be officially charged and continue to be denied due process. If convicted, the journalists could face up to 14 years in prison.

Deniz Yucel

Who German Turkish reporter | Where Istanbul | When Released Feb. 16, 2018, imprisoned for 367 days

Veysel Ok via Reuters

On the same day Turkish German reporter Deniz Yucel was released after being held in Turkey without charge or trial for more than a year, six other Turkish journalists were convicted to life in prison for their alleged involvement in a failed 2016 coup.

Mahmoud Abou Zeid

Who Egyptian reporter | Where Tora Prison, Egypt | When Arrested Aug. 14, 2013

Lobna Tarek/El Shorouk/AP, cover photo: Amr Nabil/AP

Photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, who works under the pseudonym “Shawkan,” has been in pretrial detention for more than four years.

He is one of many imprisoned journalists in Egypt who have never been convicted or sentenced for any criminal offense but remain detained anyway. Some, like Shawkan, have been behind bars for years. Twelve of the 20 journalists imprisoned in Egypt through 2017 have yet to be formally convicted or sentenced.

Emilio Gutierrez

Who Mexican reporter in U.S. jail | Where U.S. Immigration Detention Center, El Paso | When Arrested Dec. 7, 2017

Noel St. John/National Press Club

One journalist is being held in the United States — but not because of his work. Gutierrez, a Mexican journalist who sought asylum in the United States in 2008, was arrested in December by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and is being threatened with deportation.

Gutierrez, the 2017 winner of the National Press Club's Freedom of the Press Award, says he would face certain death in Mexico if he were returned to his native country.

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