CAIRO: Egypt dropped 39 places on the press freedom index as crackdown by the Mubarak regime and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) against press freedom mounts, Reporters without Borders said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The hounding of foreign journalists for three days at the start of February, the interrogations, arrests and convictions of journalists and bloggers by military courts, and the searches without warrants all contributed to Egypt’s dramatic fall in the index," the watchdog said.
Reporters without Borders ranked Egypt at 166 instead of 127 in 2010.
The ranking comes amid changing political discourses across the Arab world that witnessed revolts in what was known as "the Arab Spring".
Tunisia jumped from 164 to 134, while Libya rose from 160 to 154.
"The Kingdom of Bahrain (173) plunged 29 places to become one of the world’s 10 most repressive countries … Yemen fell just one place (from 170 to 171) despite all the violence used by the security forces against demonstrators and journalists covering the demonstrations," the statement read.
Syria fell from 170 to 171.
Following a brief period in which the future of media looked promising, former information minister Osama Heikal declared that no more licenses will be given to satellite channels.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) slammed in a statement this month the crackdown on freedom of expression when four members of the April 6 Youth Movement were arrested for "hanging anti-SCAF posters," as well as the continuous attacks on the "Kazeboon" (Liars) campaign that aims to expose violations of armed forces through film screenings in neighborhoods around the country.
"SCAF is using the same tactics and the same oppression [of Mubarak] by using the general prosecution to restrict freedom of expression. This time they used organized groups from the remnants of the old regime to clash with anti-SCAF campaigns," ANHRI said.
"SCAF presents this as a scuffle between two [groups] of citizens, as if the revolution is a point of view, as if democracy is a subject of conflict between two sides."
Executive Director of ANHRI lawyer Gamal Eid traced back the crackdown on media and freedom of expression to February last year.
"We expected [a bit of] confusion in the political performance of SCAF because military institutions are undemocratic by nature, but the crackdown on free speech definitely portrays bad intentions," Eid said.
"SCAF should have given more space to free media and free speech as a sign of goodwill. Enabling media to criticize SCAF will help them perform better," he said.