WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders released a list of countries ranked by press freedom and showed the U.S. had one of the most significant declines of any country.
The U.S. dropped from the 32nd spot to the 46th. Reporters Without Borders said the decline is due to the Obama administration sacrificing freedom of the press in the name of national security. More specifically, the group attributes it to three separate events: the administration's management of the Snowden leaks, the conviction of Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning, and the Justice Department's seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.
The Obama administration has seen to the prosecution of six government officials for leaking information, which is twice as much as previous administrations combined. President Obama has defended his actions by saying, "Leaks related to national security put people at risk. I make no apologies and I don't think the American people would expect me as Commander in Chief not to be concerned about information that might compromise their missions or might get them killed."
Aside from national security issues, the media has also complained to the White House that there is very limited access to the president. At the end of his first term, Obama had the least amount of press conferences since the Reagan administration, and many foreign photographers are banned from certain presidential events.
Josh Sterns, the campaign director at advocacy group Free Press said it's also concerning because, "Our press freedom ranking is important not just as a measure of the democratic health of our press, but also because hostility towards the press at home can legitimize threats to journalists abroad."