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2018: 250 journalists jailed worldwide, Nigeria’s Jalingo listed among top 10

Journalist Jalingo to remain in detention another 5 days as prosecutor asks for adjournment of case

The United States Government said on Saturday night that 250 journalists were jailed throughout the world last year, with Turkey, China, and Egypt among the worst offenders.

The Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Ms Morgan Ortagus, disclosed this in a statement to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

In Nigeria several journalists and bloggers, including Agba Jalingo and Jones Abiri, have also been detained by the Federal Government and its agencies on trumped-up charges

A coalition of about 34 media organizations, One Free Press Coalition, had last month listed Jalingo’s trial for treasonable felony among 10 “most urgent” cases of threats to press freedom across the world.

Members of the coalition include Al Jazeera, the Associated Press, The Financial Times, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, The Washington Post, and Voice of America.

The coalition condemned the persecution of journalists for pursuing “the truth” globally.

Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, is standing trial over a report alleging that the Cross River State governor diverted N500 million belonging to the state government.

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He was arrested on August 22 and still standing trial at a court in the Cross River State capital.

Abiri, who was released last month from the Department of State Services (DSS) custody was also detained for about five months over a report indicting the oil companies and governors in the oil-rich Niger Delta for the ecological problems in the region.

The US report on the other hand also pointed accusing fingers at Iran, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Mexico and Nicaragua for the imprisonment of media workers and bloggers.

Ortagus said: “In far too many places around the world, journalists are killed, tortured, jailed, and harassed.

“All these for reports that expose the abuses of corrupt regimes, undermines the work of terrorist and criminal organisations, gives voice to overlooked communities, and counters disinformation.

“As of December 2018, more than 250 journalists remain jailed around the world, with Turkey, China, and Egypt among the worst offenders.

“Members of the media and bloggers also remain imprisoned in countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Mexico, and Nicaragua.’’

Remembering reporters killed in the line of duty, Ortagus called for “an immediate end to all threats, intimidation, and violence against journalists and other media professionals for their work.”

“Our nation’s unwavering support for press freedom is enshrined in our constitution, and the United States will call out those who seek to undermine this essential component of any healthy society,’’ she added.

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