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Middle East, East Asia Score Poorly in Press Freedom Survey - 2004-10-27


An international journalists' group monitoring news media freedom says countries in East Asia and the Middle East have the worst press freedom records in the world.

In its third annual index of press freedom, Reporters Without Borders says independent media either do not exist in those nations or journalists are routinely censored and persecuted.

The organization listed northern European countries led by Denmark as the best among the 167 countries and territories surveyed.

North Korea ranked the worst. Vietnam, Burma and China also were in the bottom 10.

Israel and Lebanon were the top-ranked Middle Eastern countries -- in 36th and 87th place respectively. But Iraq, Iran, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia were in the bottom 20.

The United States was ranked 22nd, with the survey expressing concern, among other things, over the arrest of several journalists during anti-Bush demonstrations.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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