Journalist Manoj Kumar Rai, editor of the Gaunle monthly, has been kept in detention for ten days in Kathmandu for sharing on Facebook the investigative articles and booklet he wrote on a religious guru. The monthly is published from Kathmandu. Rai hails from Solukhumbu, a mountainous district in the eastern region of Nepal.
Senior Superintendent of Police Bikram Thapa confirmed that Rai was arrested from Kathmandu and investigation was underway under the Electronic Transaction Act-2008 because the news and the book he wrote on religious guru was shared in social network as Facebook.
Similarly, Sub-Inspector of Police at Metropolitan Police Premise, Teku, Ram Krishna Pathak, said a complaint was filed against journalist Rai by various persons, including Henkhama Hankhim and Prem Kumar Rai, arguing that 'he wrote the book blemishing the religious guru.
On May 18, Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring team visited the detained journalist Rai, reaching at Metropolitan Police Range, Teku. During the conversation, he said, "I had to release my booklet in a small gathering of friends after I got huge pressure to postpone the scheduled book release program at Nepal Academy. I released it on May 8, 2016. Immediately after that I was called by the Kathmandu police and kept in detention, saying a complaint was lodged against me."
“I’m not discouraged at all. I am learning how the laws are obstruction to citizens’ right to free expression,” he said from behind the bar, adding that his detention period was expiring on Wednesday (May 18), and was hopeful of positive decision from the court.
In the booklet, he said, he had argued that the person Bhakta Bahadur Rai from Udayapur district was conducting phony activities in the name of religious guru. His book entitled 'fraud Omnand (God Angel)',
Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incident, for none can be arrested merely for exercising freedom of expression. Journalist Rai's detention under the Electronic Transaction Act is the latest series how ETA is criminalizing FoE on internet. Invocation of ETA to arrest journalist grossly violates press freedom.
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