NEW YORK — An estimated 320 journalists around the world were imprisoned because of their work toward the end of 2023, according to a report issued Thursday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which called it a disturbing attempt to smother independent voices.

That’s the second-highest number of jailed journalists since the committee began its annual census in 1992. It’s down from 367 in 2022, due primarily to the release of many in Iran, either on bail or as they await sentencing, the committee said.

“Our research shows how entrenched authoritarianism is globally, with governments emboldened to stamp out critical reporting and prevent public accountability,” said Jodie Ginsberg, the committee’s chief executive officer.

More than a third of the journalists in jail according to the CPJ’s Dec. 1, 2023, census were in China, Myanmar and Belarus, the report said.

Israel is tied with Iran for sixth place, the country’s highest ranking ever on CPJ’s annual list. Each of the 17 that were held in Israel at the time of the census were Palestinians arrested in the West Bank since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, the report said.

Twelve of the 17 nonlocal journalists who CPJ says are imprisoned throughout the world were being held in Russia. They include two U.S. citizens: Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and Alsu Kurmasheva of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, both of whom are being held in pretrial detention.