China Is the World's Leading Jailer of Journalists for Second Year: Report

The number of journalists imprisoned worldwide decreased in 2015, but the state of press freedom is worsening in a number of countries, including China, Turkey and Egypt, according to a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

China and Egypt were the leading jailers of media workers in 2015 and the number of journalists imprisoned in Turkey and Egypt "rose dramatically" over the year, according to the CPJ. The past three years have seen record numbers of journalists in jail, but the total number in jail dropped to 199 this year, compared with 221 in 2014.

One quarter of the world's jailed journalists are in China, which takes the title of world's leading imprisoner of media workers for a second year in a row. The 49 imprisoned journalists in the country is a record for China, according to the report.

While serial offenders Iran, Vietnam and Ethiopia have fewer journalists in jail, "in all three countries a climate of fear for the media persists," according to the report. Journalists in those countries continue to face legal troubles and many have been forced into exile.

Egypt has witnessed the most rapid deterioration of press freedom across the world, according to the report. In 2015 there were 23 journalists in jail in Egypt, compared with 12 in 2014, although "as recently as 2012, no journalists were in jail for their work in Egypt," according to the report. Earlier this month, Egyptian reporter Ismail Alexandrani was arrested and accused of publishing false news and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood party after returning to Egypt from Berlin. In November, Hossam Bahgat, another Egyptian journalist, was detained but later released by authorities.

Like Egypt, press freedom in Turkey has "taken a turn for the worse," with the number of jailed journalists doubling to 14 this year. Turkey was previously the top jailer of journalists in the world, in 2012 and 2013.

A number of American journalists remain missing or jailed abroad. Austin Tice, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and has still not been found. Washington Post journalist and Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian has been detained for more than 500 days in Iran, where the number of jailed journalists has fallen from 30 in 2014 to 19 in 2015.

Around the world, there are 109 online and 83 print reporters in jail. Just over a quarter of the world's jailed journalists are freelancers. Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates appeared on the CPJ list this year after having no journalists in prison in 2014.