In 2023, jailed journalist numbers were near a record high as Israel imprisonments spiked

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy media entrepreneur Jimmy Lai, jailed since 2020, faces a possible life sentence under the city’s national security law. Lai’s national security trial only started after he’d spent nearly 1,100 days behind bars. If convicted, he could be jailed for life. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Globally, 320 journalists were imprisoned in connection with their work on December 1, 2023, the second highest recorded since CPJ started recording this data. The previous record was set in 2022, when more than 360 appeared in CPJ’s database. 

In 2023, the top three jailers of journalists—China (44 behind bars), Myanmar (43), and Belarus (28)—held more than a third (35.8%) of those incarcerated on the day of the census. Russia (22) and Vietnam (19) rounded out the top five jailers of journalists. Israel has also emerged as one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, tied with Iran for sixth place. 

“Our research shows how entrenched authoritarianism is globally, with governments emboldened to stamp out critical reporting and prevent public accountability. Meanwhile, Israel’s standing in CPJ’s 2023 prison census is evidence that a fundamental democratic norm—press freedom—is fraying as Israel exploits draconian methods to silence Palestinian journalists. This practice must stop,” said Jodie Ginsberg, CPJ’s chief executive officer.

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Explore our interactive map of journalists imprisoned in 2023 here.