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U.S. sinks to 46th place in world press freedom rankings

Press freedoms in the U.S. are diminishing, according to a noted journalist organization, mostly because of the administration's aggressive pursuit of whistleblowers.
Article 19

You would think that a nation which has freedom of the press enshrined in its founding governing document would lead the world in, well, press freedom. But that’s not the case.

In fact, according to the latest rankings, the United States places 46th in the world in so-called press freedom – a ranking that has slipped in recent years, thanks to the Obama administration’s overly aggressive policy of prosecuting whistleblowers.

This year’s World Press Freedom Index, produced since 2002 by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders organization, indicated that the U.S. slipped 13 positions, mostly due to “overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs.”

The main reason why the U.S. now ranks below El Salvador and Romania in press freedom, the group said, was due to the U.S. government’s dogged efforts to “track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks.”

“The trial of and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest," the report reads.

"The whistleblower is the enemy," it adds.

Which nation enjoys the most press freedom? That would be Finland, for the fourth year in a row. That country was followed by the Netherlands and Norway.

At the bottom end, according to the group, are nations you might expect – the former Soviet satellite state of Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. In those three countries, freedom of information is “non-existent” because they “continue to be black holes and living hells for journalists who inhabit them.”

Follow J.D. Heyes on Google+ and Twitter.

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