PARIS (Reuters) - The murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a year when more than half of all journalists killed were targeted deliberately reflects a hatred of the media in many areas of society, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Tuesday.
At least 63 professional journalists around the world were killed doing their jobs in 2018, RSF said, a 15 percent increase on last year. The number of fatalities rises to 80 when including all media workers and citizen journalists.
"The hatred of journalists that is voiced ... by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and began writing for the Washington Post after moving to the United States last year, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Khashoggi's death sparked global outrage. Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the crown prince ordered his death.
The Paris-based body said that the three most dangerous countries for journalists to work in were Afghanistan, Syria and Mexico.
Meanwhile, the shooting of five employees of the Capital Gazette newspaper propelled the United States into the ranks of the most dangerous countries.
The media freedom organisation said 348 journalists are being detained worldwide, compared with 326 at this time in 2017. China, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt hold more than half the world's imprisoned journalists.
(Reporting by Richard Lough, editing by Ed Osmond)