Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2009

PARIS — Iran’s crackdown on journalists amid postelection protests and Israel’s squeeze on media during its Gaza offensive drew black marks Tuesday from a watchdog monitoring media freedoms worldwide.

Both countries’ standings fell on Reporters Without Borders’ annual ranking of press freedom worldwide.

The United States came in for rare praise from the Paris-based group, rising from No. 40 on last year’s ranking to No. 20 this year. The group attributes the rise to more relaxed attitudes toward the media under President Barack Obama.

But it warned, “The attitude of the United States toward the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is worrying,” noting that a number of journalists were arrested or injured by the U.S. military over the year period ending Aug. 31.

The group, also known by its French acronym RSF, compiles data on attacks, arrests, laws and overt or covert censorship in determining its list.

European countries led the list of 175 countries, with Denmark, Finland and Ireland the top three. The bottom three countries remained unchanged from the previous ranking: Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan.

Just above them was Iran, at 172nd, dropping from the previous ranking after protests following June presidential elections that saw a crackdown on media coverage.

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