A media advocacy group says Eritrea has replaced North Korea as the world's worst country for freedom of the press.

Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom index Tuesday. The Paris-based group says Eritrea earned its last-place ranking by banning privately-owned media and throwing journalists who criticize the government in prison, where at least four of them have died.

Eritrea's information minister, Ali Abdu, called the report "rubbish" and said that journalists from all over the world work freely in the country.

Reporters Without Borders also says it is particularly disturbed by the situation in Burma. It says the military government's crackdown on protests there bodes poorly for the future of basic freedoms in the country.

The top five countries in the index are all from Europe, with Iceland ranked at the top, followed by Norway, Estonia, Slovakia and Belgium.

The bottom five, in descending order, are Cuba, Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

Reporters Without Borders praised several countries for allowing the press greater freedom, including Mauritania, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Nepal.

The group criticized many countries for arresting journalists and stepping up censorship on the Internet.

The United States was ranked 48th on the index, just behind Nicaragua and one space ahead of Togo.