The UK has dropped three places in the press freedom index, to 33rd.
International watchdog Reporters Without Borders said the demotion was due to the country “distinguishing itself by its harassment of the Guardian” following the paper’s publication of the NSA and GCHQ leaks by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Downing Street ordered the destruction of Guardian computers back in August.
America’s reaction to Snowden and the jailing of Chelsea Manning saw it fall 13 places to 46th.
RSF said: “The hunt for leaks and whistleblowers serves as a warning to those thinking of satisfying a public interest need for information about the imperial prerogatives assumed by the world’s leading power.”
Major declines in press freedom were noted in the Central African Republic and Guatemala. Elsewhere, there were marked improvements in Ecuador, Bolivia and South Africa among the total of 180 countries.
Finland, Netherlands and Norway still lead the index, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea remain last.