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Freedom House Says Middle East Continues to Repress Media

The U.S.-based Freedom House organization says media freedom has stagnated in the Middle East and North Africa after several years of modest progress.

In its annual report Wednesday, the advocacy group says the region continued in 2006 to show the lowest ratings for media freedom in the world. It says the vast majority of countries there have restrictive media environments.

The report notes long-standing concerns about Libya, Syria, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories, as well as rising legal harassment in Turkey. Almost 300 writers were prosecuted there for what the government calls "insulting Turkishness."

The group says worsening violence in Iraq last year killed several dozen media personnel.

The survey describes conditions in Saudi Arabia and Iran as deteriorating. It adds that Morocco increasingly harassed journalists with legal measures such as the threat of crippling fines for defamation.