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Western press freedom shrinks

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PARIS, Oct 19, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The 10 nations with the greatest press freedom are in Europe while North Korea is dead last in the Reporters Without Borders' 2005 World Press Freedom Index.

Some Western democracies -- including Canada (ranked 21), the United States (44) and France (30) -- slipped in the fourth annual index, compiled by the Paris-based media freedom group from a survey of partner organizations and members.

The United States fell 20 places due to the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Legal efforts to force journalists to reveal confidential sources hurt U.S., Canadian and French rankings.

A growing number African and Latin American countries earned respectable rankings, including Benin and Namibia (both 25), El Salvador (28) Mauritius (34) and Costa Rica (41).

Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands again led the index with "robust" press freedom, Reporters Without Borders said.

North Korea again ranked last (167) behind Eritrea (166) and Turkmenistan (165). The media group called those countries "black holes" where there is no freedom of expression.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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