World turmoil means fewer have free press, democracy watchdog reports

NEW YORK (AP) - A democracy watchdog group says a slump in global media freedom driven by turmoil in Mali, Greece's decline and tightening media control in Latin America have pushed the percentage of the world's population in countries with a completely free press to its lowest level in 16 years.

Freedom House said last year's gains in press freedom in the Middle East and North Africa remain precarious, with Tunisia and Libya mainly holding onto their Arab Spring gains while Egypt significantly backslid.

The group said China and Russia maintain a tight grip on traditional media, including detaining, jailing, or bringing legal charges against critics, and closing down or otherwise censoring outlets.

Freedom House noted changes in rankings due to economic pressures on the media in places such as Greece and Spain.