South Asia

Journalists Bodies Demand Immediate Release of Arrested Nepali Editor

Chand was arrested on November 27 in Kathmandu under a cyber law for publishing news that an attack was attempted on former prime minister Prachanda.

New Delhi: Journalist bodies have condemned the arrest of Nepalo journalist Gopal Chand, the editor of an online news portal postpati.com, and demanded his immediate release.

Chand was arrested on November 27 in Kathmandu under a cyber law for publishing news that a local in Chitwan district attempted to attack former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who is now a co-chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, during a meeting. The police has accused Chand of spreading false information and charged him under the Electronic Transaction Act.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) expressed concerns over the arrest.

Ramesh Bista, the FNJ general secretary, said: “Nepal Police has stepped outside their premises by repeatedly arresting journalists on cyber-crimes charges, which the FNJ considers an attack on press freedom. It is the responsibility of the Press Council of Nepal to evaluate contents of media and to take action. Arrest of journalists for their contents harasses journalists community and the FNJ demands immediate release of the arrested journalist.”

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In a separate incident, journalist Kamal Paudel Athak was threatened for a news about fraud on September 29. Paudel, who is associated with various news outlets in Pokhara, west Nepal, received a threatening phone call from a person who didn’t disclose his identity.

Ajaya Babu Shiwakoti, the general secretary of IFJ affiliate Nepal Press Union said: “The NPU strongly condemn the threat to journalist who was exercising his rights to inform the public and write about fraud and corruption.”

The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns arrest of journalist Gopal Chand, and threatening phone call to journalist Kamal Paudel Athak in Nepal. The incidents show the weakening press freedom. The IFJ demands immediate release of Chand and arrest of the person who threatened Paudel. Nepal government should ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future.