China imprisoned more journalists in 2019 than any other country, according to a report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
At least 48 journalists were imprisoned in China this year, according to the report. Turkey, which imprisoned 47 journalists, was ranked second.
“A crackdown in Xinjiang province – where a million members of Muslim ethnic groups have been sent to internment camps – has led to the arrests of dozens of journalists, including some apparently jailed for journalistic activity years earlier,” the report reads.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the report could not be taken seriously because U.S.-based institutions like CPJ have no credibility.
“You should feel lucky that you work in Beijing and not in Washington,” Hua told reporters.
China is currently detaining roughly one million members of Uighur and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province in prison camps. Documents leaked from within the Communist Party describe the network of camps, which use 24-hour surveillance to monitor detainees and are meant to indoctrinate prisoners in Communist Party ideology. Escaped prisoners have described routine torture as part of their detention.
The top countries that imprisoned journalists in 2019 after China and Turkey were Eritrea and Saudi Arabia, each with 26, followed by Vietnam with 12 and Iran with 11.
The report said that “authoritarianism, instability, and protests” in the Middle East led to an increase in imprisoned journalists throughout the region.