Hatred whipped up by "unscrupulous politicians" has contributed to the shocking rise in the number of journalists murdered in 2018, a media watchdog said Tuesday. Four of those were journalists killed by a gunman in a June attack on the newspaper Capital Gazette in Maryland.
Thirty-four journalists were killed in retaliation for their work, while 53 total journalists were killed in 2018 across the globe, according to a Wednesday report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Two other journalists died while reporting on extreme weather conditions. The other 31 died in the field while reporting, RSF said, adding that the group was investigating a further 10 deaths to determine whether they were related to journalism.
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The number of journalists killed worldwide in connection to their work has nearly doubled between 2017 and 2018, according to a Wednesday report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a saying it "believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder" of the Washington Post columnist, effectively undermining the Trump administration's effort to play down and contain the fallout from the high-profile assassination.
RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said the violence against journalists "has reached unprecedented levels", calling the situation "critical".
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"The White House, traditionally a strong defender of global press freedom, has equivocated on the blame for Khashoggi's murder despite, according to the (Washington) Post, CIA conclusions that only the Crown Prince could have ordered such an operation", the report said.
The deadliest place for journalists was Afghanistan where 13 were killed. Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has previously said that Khashoggi's murder "does not reflect the Kingdom's policy nor its institutions".
MSF listed China as the biggest jailer, holding 60 people, 46 of them described as non-professional journalists "who have tried to compensate for the Communist Party's increasingly tight control on the traditional media".
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Afghanistan was the deadliest country for journalists; 15 media workers were killed in violent attacks.
Almost 350 journalists were being held in prison at the start of December, with more than half of them detained in just five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
Khashoggi, the reporters at the Capital Gazette, and the imprisoned Reuters' journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were featured last week in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue, honoring "The Guardians and the War on Truth". Afghanistan was the most unsafe country for journalists, with 15 killed including AFP's Shah Marai, followed by Syria with 11 deaths and Mexico with nine.
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In a move that is motivated by everything political and nothing factual, the United States has been listed among the most risky countries in the world for journalists, according to NBC News.