The UK has slipped three places in the Reporters Without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index to 33rd place.
The campaign group cites government intimidation of The Guardian over its surveillance investigation as a factor in the fall:
In the United Kingdom, the government sent officials to The Guardian’s basement to supervise destruction of the newspaper’s computer hard disks containing information from whistleblower Edward Snowden about the practices of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. Shortly thereafter, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the former Guardian star reporter who had worked closely with Snowden, was held at Heathrow Airport for nine hours under the Terrorism Act. By identifying journalism with terrorism with such disturbing ease, the UK authorities are following one of the most widespread practices of authoritarian regimes. Against this backdrop, civil society could only be alarmed by a Royal Charter for regulating the press. Adopted in response to the outcry about the News of the World tabloid’s scandalous phone hacking, its impact on freedom of information in the UK will be assessed in the next index.
The league table is based on a survey sent out to partner freedom of expression organisations in 180 countries.
Countries are rated on: pluralism, media independence, environment and self censorship, legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure.
RWB makes no mention this year of the 61-plus UK journalists arrested over the last two years as a result of police investigations stemming from the hacking scandal.
Finland is rated number one with Eritrea in last place.