Nearly 300 journalists are currently languishing behind bars around the globe—an all-time high in recorded history—according to a new report published Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which described 2021 as \u0022an especially bleak year for defenders of press freedom.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe U.S.-based nonprofit\u0026#039;s annual prison census found that 293 reporters were incarcerated worldwide as of December 1, up from the\u0026nbsp;previous record-high of 280 last year.\r\n\r\n\u0022This is the sixth year in a row that CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists imprisoned around the world,\u0022 CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in a statement.\r\n\r\n\u0022The number reflects two inextricable challenges—governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so,\u0022 said Simon, who added that \u0022imprisoning journalists for reporting the news is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime.\u0022\r\n\r\nAccording to CPJ, \u0022China remains the world\u0026#039;s worst jailer of journalists for the third year in a row, with 50 behind bars. Myanmar soared to the second slot after the media crackdown that followed its February 1 military coup. Egypt, Vietnam, and Belarus, respectively, rounded out the top five.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022No journalists were jailed in North America at the time of the census deadline,\u0022 CPJ noted. \u0022However, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a partner of CPJ,\u0026nbsp;recorded 56 arrests and detentions\u0026nbsp;of journalists across the U.S. during 2021. Eighty-six percent occurred during protests.\u0022\r\n\r\nWhile \u0022the reasons for the relentless climb in the numbers of detained journalists... differ between countries,\u0022 the group pointed out, \u0022all reflect a stark trend: a growing intolerance of independent reporting.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Emboldened autocrats\u0026nbsp;are increasingly ignoring due process and flouting international norms to keep themselves in power,\u0022 CPJ noted. \u0022In a world preoccupied with Covid-19 and trying to prioritize issues like climate change, repressive governments are clearly aware that public outrage at human rights abuses is blunted and democratic governments have less appetite for political or economic retaliation.\u0022\r\n\r\nAlthough some of the world\u0026#039;s worst jailers of journalists, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, released several reporters in 2021, CPJ argued that \u0022it would be naïve to see lower prisoner numbers as a sign of a change of heart toward the press.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe group elaborated:\r\n\r\n\r\nAs CPJ has\u0026nbsp;noted, Turkey\u0026#039;s crackdown after a failed coup attempt in 2016 effectively eradicated the country\u0026#039;s mainstream media and prompted many journalists to leave the profession. Turkey\u0026#039;s prison count is also declining as the government allows more journalists out on parole to await trial or appeal outcomes.\r\n\r\nIn Saudi Arabia, the intimidatory effect of\u0026nbsp;Jamal Khashoggi\u0026#039;s horrific murder\u0026nbsp;and dismemberment in 2018, along with several new detentions in 2019, is likely to have silenced many journalists more effectively than any fresh wave of arrests. In addition, authoritarian leaders are increasingly finding more sophisticated ways to block independent reporters and outlets—notably\u0026nbsp;internet shutdowns\u0026nbsp;and increased surveillance through\u0026nbsp;high-tech spyware—than keeping them behind bars.\u0026nbsp;\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\nOver the past three decades, hundreds of reporters have suffered fates even worse than being imprisoned for their work. Since CPJ began tracking such data in 1992, more than 1,420 journalists have been killed around the world.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAccording to CPJ, at least 24 journalists have been murdered so far this year because of their coverage—19 who were killed in\u0026nbsp;direct retribution for their reporting and five more who died while reporting from conflict zones or protests that turned deadly. Eighteen others \u0022died in circumstances too murky to determine whether they were specific targets.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhile the new report focuses on how \u0022repressive regimes from Asia to Europe to Africa\u0022 invoked \u0022new tech and security laws\u0022 to \u0022crac[k] down harshly on the independent press,\u0022 human rights advocates have highlighted how nominally democratic governments in the United States and the United Kingdom have facilitated attacks on whistleblowers and the media.\r\n\r\nFor instance, while the dramatic arrest\u0026nbsp;of dissident\u0026nbsp;journalist Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian government in May\u0026nbsp;was condemned worldwide, critics not only called for the reporter\u0026#039;s release but also drew attention to the eerie similarities between the actions of Belarus\u0026#039; authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenkoto and a 2013 attempt by the U.S. and other Western governments to capture NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden by diverting a civilian flight carrying then-Bolivian President Evo Morales.\r\n\r\nMoreover, Yahoo News recently\u0026nbsp;reported\u0026nbsp;that in 2017, the CIA, under the leadership of then-Director Mike Pompeo, plotted to kidnap—and discussed plans to assassinate—WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, who is currently imprisoned in London as he fights the Biden administration\u0026#039;s\u0026nbsp;efforts to extradite him\u0026nbsp;to the U.S.\u0026nbsp;Assange was not included in CPJ\u0026#039;s tally of incarcerated journalists.\r\n\r\nIn July, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S.\u0026nbsp;\u0022will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world,\u0022 critics were quick to point out that Washington\u0026#039;s purported commitment to press freedom doesn\u0026#039;t apply to Assange, whom the U.S. government is attempting to prosecute for releasing classified information that exposed war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.