Simara Police Office arrested journalist Rabindra Gautam for alleged spread of misleading information via his Facebook handle. He was held under cybercrime charge in Hetauda on April 14. Hetauda lies in Province 3.
Journalist Gautam is associated with Sarobar F.M.
As per Freedom Forum representative for Province 3, Rammani Dahal, journalist Gautam was arrested for allegedly posting fake information on Facebook status which simply stated: "Three Indian nationalities are detected with the Coronavirus infections in Birgunj Metropolitan City of Parsa district. The districts such as Parsa, Bara, Rautahat among others should adopt high precautionary measures. There is no reason to worry. The districts of the Terai region are safe. Let's not be terrorized instead follow the government's decision.''
Although the journalist posted information urging for precaution on the coronavirus, the police wrongfully held him and harassed unnecessarily.
A day later, after the pressure from media persons and FoE organizations that journalist had not spread misinformation, the police released him with Rs. 2000 as bail amount a day later.
Freedom Forum condemns the arrest of journo Gautam as it is a severe violation of freedom of expression. Nepal’s constitution itself guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Journo must not be treated as a criminal for posting an opinion on social media platforms.
FF urges the concerned authority to respect civil rights and demands the immediate release of Gautam.