10 Most Censored Countries – Committee to Protect Journalists
Leadership: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, in power since 2006.
How censorship works: Berdymukhamedov enjoys absolute control over all spheres of life in Turkmenistan, including the media, using it to promote his cult of personality. His regime suppresses independent voices by detaining and jailing journalists and, according to U.S.-Congress funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, forcing others to flee the country. All media outlets are owned or tightly controlled by the government. A handful of independent Turkmenistan-focused media outlets, such as Khronika Turkmenistana (Chronicles of Turkmenistan), operate in exile, and anyone who attempts to access the website can be questioned by the authorities, OpenDemocracy reported. Correspondents for RFE/RL’s Turkmen service work under pseudonyms and have been imprisoned, attacked, and banned from traveling. Only around 21% of the country’s population had access to the internet, according to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union. The regime blocks independent online publications and bans the use of VPNs and other anonymizing tools, according to IREX’s 2017 Media Sustainability Index. Access for foreign media is rare; ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, authorities revoked the accreditation of several British journalists, according to the Guardian. RFE/RL reported in February 2019 that authorities “have actively pursued Western surveillance technology.”
Lowlight: In March 2019, freelance journalist Soltan Achilova, 69, who contributes to Khronika Turkmenistana and who has previously contributed to RFE/RL’s Turkmen service, was barred from boarding an international flight. Achilova, who chronicles daily life in Turkmenistan, has previously been detained by police, physically assaulted, and threatened due to her journalism.Independent freelance journalist Soltan Achilova, as seen in November 2017 in her house in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, has been detained, physically assaulted, and threatened due to her work. (CPJ via Khronika Turkmenistana)