The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, in its annual ranking of 168 nations, has named North Korea as the world's worst violator of a free press.
The Paris-based group said Monday that journalists in North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Burma, and China risk their lives or prison for trying to keep people informed.
It criticizes Iran and Saudi Arabia as two of the worst violators in the Middle East.
The group ranked the United States 53rd, citing what it calls White House suspicion of reporters who question the war on terrorism.
Other countries generally known for press freedom also slipped in the rankings, including Denmark, France, and Japan, while the list showed improvements in Bolivia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Reporters without Borders says Finland, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands all share first place as countries that respect the rights of journalists.
Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.