NEW YORK - At least 127 journalists worldwide are behind bars, and one in six has never been publicly charged with a crime, according to an annual survey by a press freedom group.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said its yearly census found that the number of jailed journalists has dropped by only seven from the previous year.
"While we believe every one of these 127 journalists should be released, we are especially concerned for those detained without charge because they're often held in abysmal conditions," said the committee's executive director, Joel Simon.
Journalists are being held by 24 countries, most in places notorious for their intolerance of the press.
Twenty-nine are being held in China. Other frequent jailers of journalists include Cuba, Eritrea, Iran and Azerbaijan, according to the advocacy group.
But the group also cited two journalists who are held without charges by the United States: Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein, who has been held by U.S. forces in Iraq for nearly 20 months, and Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, who has been jailed for five years at the military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The military has declined to provide details of the accusations against him but has said he had links to insurgent groups in Iraq. The Pentagon recently said it intends to submit evidence against Hussein to the Iraqi judiciary system Sunday.
AP executives said they have seen no evidence that Hussein was anything other than a working journalist.
Al-Haj, who is from Sudan, was detained by military forces in Pakistan in 2002 as he tried to enter Afghanistan to cover the war there.
The journalists group named as "Journalist of the Year" jailed Eritrean Seyoum Tsehaye, 54, who has never been allowed a family visit or a lawyer or charged during six years of imprisonment.