The number of bloggers under arrest in repressive regimes increased dramatically last year. A total of 64 citizens are known to have been arrested around the world since 2003 for their activities, according to research from Washington University.
In the first three months of 2008, as many bloggers were arrested as in the whole of 2003.
But these arrests are just the tip of the iceberg, according to Phil Howard, assistant professor of communication at the university. "The real number of arrested bloggers is probably much higher, since many arrests in China, Zimbabwe, and Iran go unreported in the international media," he said.
The bloggers were arrested for activities such as using a blog to organise or cover social protests, posting comments about public policy or political figures, exposing corruption or human rights violations and violating cultural norms, according to the research.
Over the past five years, the average prison sentence for an arrested blogger was 15 months. Bloggers served a total of 940 months in jail.
"These bloggers expose bureaucratic corruption or human rights abuses and express opinions about political figures and public policy options. They post reports and photos from social protests," said the report.