10 Most Censored Countries – Committee to Protect Journalists

Lowlight: In January 2019, Iran’s judiciary sentenced Yashar Soltani[93] to five years in prison on anti-state charges after he published a series of articles that unveiled alleged corruption in Tehran land deals. Soltani worked for Memari News, the now-defunct independent website focusing exclusively on architecture and urban affairs.A man uses his cell phone, with a photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran, Iran, on October 13, 2017. The government in recent years has stepped up internet and digital censorship, including bans on social media sites and messaging apps. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

8. Equatorial Guinea

Leadership: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in power since 1979; Africa’s longest-ruling head of state.

How censorship works: The government maintains a tight grip on how and what journalists report in Equatorial Guinea. All broadcast media are government owned[94], except for RTV-Asonga, a network owned by the president’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang, who is also the country’s vice president. Local[95] and international broadcasters have been banned from covering certain subjects deemed threatening to the image of the country or those close to the president. While privately owned newspapers do exist, journalists work under threat of prosecution for coverage deemed critical of the president, his family, or the government in general, and thus frequently self-censor, according to a June 2019 report[96] by Civicus. Websites of foreign news outlets and the political opposition are among those regularly blocked, according[97] to an October 2018 civil society submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review. The 1997 Press, Printing and Audiovisual Law[98] restricts journalistic activity, including allowing for official prepublication censorship, and defamation and libel remain criminal offenses under the penal code, according to Civicus and Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press[99] report. In November 2017, the internet was shut down on the day of voting for parliamentary and municipal elections, and Facebook was blocked for about three weeks prior to the vote, according to news[100] reports[101] and civil society group EG Justice[102].

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