Conditions for the media continued to be severely constrained in 2002. Although freedom of expression is nominally provided for in the constitution, the 1996 press law makes this right subject to the official interpretation of "the objective reality of Eritrea," forbids private ownership of the broadcast media, and requires that all newspapers and reporters be licensed. In September 2001, in a dramatic crackdown against the independent media and other forms of political dissent, the government banned all privately owned newspapers and arrested at least 10 leading journalists, ostensibly on the grounds of national security. The arrests of other members of the press during 2002 brought the total number of imprisoned journalists to 18, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. After some of the detainees began a hunger strike in April, they were transferred from prison to unknown places of detention and held incommunicado. At least six journalists have fled abroad, while most foreign correspondents have also left Eritrea as they are unable to operate freely.