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Wed, 02 May 2012 12:03 - Updated Wed, 02 May 2012 12:03

Eritrea leads world in press censorship: report

New York

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NEW YORK - Eritrea has surpassed North Korea as the world's top press censor, with Syria and Iran placing third and fourth in a new list published Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The New York-based rights group said Eritrea had climbed to the top of the list by banning all foreign media and controlling every detail of the local media's coverage through its information ministry.

"Every time (a journalist) had to write a story, they arrange for interview subjects and tell you specific angles you have to write on," it quoted an exiled Eritrean journalist as saying on condition of anonymity.

"We usually wrote lots about the president (Issaias Afeworki) so that he's always in the limelight."

Secretive and highly authoritarian North Korea slipped to second after topping the list last year, with the CPJ saying "some tiny cracks have emerged" such as the opening of an Associated Press bureau in the capital Pyongyang.

However, foreign reporters are only rarely allowed in and details about Pyongyang's nuclear program and the new power structure following the death of ruler Kim Jong-Il remain "hidden beneath severe censorship," it said.