United States among the deadliest countries for journalists for first time

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"The number of journalists targeted for murder in reprisal for their reporting almost doubled in 2018 from a year earlier, driving up the overall count of journalists killed on the job", the CPJ said in the report, which highlighted the killing of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

In addition, the committee said the imprisonment of journalists has been on the rise. While the president condemned the violence against journalists, the committee noted that he has called them "enemies of the people". It said citizen journalists now played a key role in helping get news from countries at war or with oppressive regimes, "where it is hard for professional journalists to operate". Another reporter, Mario Leonel Gómez Sánchez, was killed by gunmen on a motorcycle "the day after members of the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists announced that the government was yet again cutting back funding for protection". CPJ considers a case work-related only when its staff is reasonably certain that a journalist was killed in direct reprisal for his or her work; in combat-related crossfire; or while carrying out a unsafe assignment.

These guidelines make it hard to understand why RSF would announce with great fanfare that the United States "joined the ranks of the world's deadliest countries for the media this year", discussing that dubious distinction immediately after talking about journalists deliberately murdered by oppressive forces such as criminal gangs and extremist groups in Mexico and India.

While the United States did not make most lists, the country for the first time ranked among the top five deadliest countries, with six journalists killed in 2018, tying it with India. Two other journalists, a local TV anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering Subtropical Storm Alberto's extreme weather in North Carolina in May. 61% were murdered or deliberately targeted for their reporting, while 39% were killed while reporting. Many U.S. officials believe that Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was behind Khashoggi's death.

FILE - In this May 3, 2018 file photo, Afghan residents light candles to pay tribute to Afghan journalists killed three days earlier in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The "shocking" murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October, which led to an worldwide outcry, demonstrated "the appalling nature of the Saudi regime and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's oppressive methods", the organization said. Thirteen journalists were murdered for their work in the country in 2018, according to CPJ's report, and 48 journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 1992. More than half of them are being held in China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. By name, they included Khashoggi and workers at the Maryland newspaper. Especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, journalists are being held.