Nepal police arrested journalists Pushkar Bhatta and Aishwarya Kunwar for their news reporting on February 10 in Kanchanpur. Kanchanpur lies in Sudurpaschim Province of Nepal.
Reporter Bhatta is associated with Mountain Television and Kunwar is reporter at Avash Kunj daily.
Freedom Forum’s representative for the province, Min Bam said that reporters duo were arrested for reporting on mismanagement in the District Police Office, Kanchanpur. “News about mismanagement at DPO were published in local media earlier,” Bam added.
Freedom Forum also talked to the Superintendant of Police Kamal Thapa about the case. SP Thapa however informed FF that police arrested the reporters under Cybercrime charge citing Electronic Transaction Act 2007 as per the order from District Court. He added that the arrest warrant was issued after a female victim’s complaint. “As per complaint, news and social media posts of the reporters duo have defamed her personally and professionally. Police is further investigating the case,” he said.
Representative Bam also shared with FF that he was working in close coordination with the fellow journalists and National Human Rights Office, Dhangadhi to release the reporters.
FF is closely monitoring the case. Arrest of the reporters for their reporting is sheer violation of press freedom. Further, arresting them under cybercrime charge for their social media post is the misuse of ETA 2007. Such misuse of ETA by the complainants and subsequent action by the security authority against journalists and citizens is a worrying trend in Nepal. FF strongly urges their safe and immediate release.
In case of defamation, the victim can approach different way rather than invoking ETA.
The journalists were released on February 14 owing to pressure from fellow journalists and civil society organizations. They were released late night on a condition that they will be in contact for further investigation. Their case is ongoing at the District court. FF’s representative Min Bam further informed that recently appointed SP Chakraraj Joshi assured the journalists that their case would be solved under district attorney’s jurisdiction thus, ensuring justice to them.
(The page was last updated on February 15, 2024.)