PARIS: Conflicts continued to weigh heavily on the media last year but press freedom was also under increasing threat from abuses by democracies like the United States (US), Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday.
In its annual World Press Freedom Index, the Paris-based media rights watchdog warned of the “growing threat worldwide” from the “tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner.”
The United States was singled out for its pursuit of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the conviction of WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning and the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.
The group, known by its French acronym RSF, said the United States had suffered “one of the most significant declines” in press freedom last year, dropping 13 places to 46th in the 180-country index, wedged between Romania and Haiti.
“Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it,” RSF said.
Syria remained especially deadly for journalists last year, with RSF reporting nearly 130 media professionals killed in the country since its conflict began in March 2011.
Syria’s overall ranking of fourth from the bottom was unchanged, but RSF has raised concerns about a surge in kidnappings.
Armed conflicts hurt press freedom elsewhere, with Mali falling 22 spots to 122nd and the Central African Republic dropping 43 places to 109th.