The army released journalist Raj Kumar Budhathoki on 24 December after 24 days of secret detention. The journalist who works for the weekly Sanjeevani Patra told Reporters Without Borders that the soldiers had threatened him with reprisals if he made any statements about his detention in the Shivapuri barracks in Katmandu. "I am afraid to stay in the city," he said.
10 December 2004
A fourth journalist abducted, three still held by Maoists
Reporters Without Borders urged the government to do everything possible to track down Nepal’s latest journalist kidnap victim, Raj Kumar Budhathoki, of the weekly Sanjeevani Patra, snatched from his home on 30 November.
The Nepalese press is still caught in the crossfire between Maoist rebels and government forces, said the worldwide press freedom organisation, strongly condemning the range of threats journalists are forced to contend with.
"The battle against impunity should be the first priority of your government" said the organisation in a letter to the Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, repeating an appeal it made on 25 November.
One of the kidnapped journalist’s colleagues, Hari Prasad Koirala has been receiving constant death threats, while the bi-monthly Samishran has been forced to close under threat from Maoists, who are also still holding three other journalists hostage.
Budhathoki was snatched from his home in the town of Banepa, east of Katmandu along with his father and three friends. The gang entered the house and then bundled all five into their car. The journalist’s neighbours told Reporters Without Borders that the car belonged to security agents.
It is not known who the kidnappers are, where they are holding their five hostages or why they were seized.
Meanwhile Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M) rebels on 6 December released journalist hostage Tulasi Thapa Kshitija after holding him for 46 hours in the Panchthar region in the east of the country.
The Maoists abducted the reporter for weeklies Panchthar Times and Aakha, because he had been reporting in the region without asking their permission. They forced him to join the CPN-M to be able to continue to work freely.
The three journalists still held by rebels are: Dhana Bahadur Rokka Magar, presenter on Radio Nepal, kidnapped in August 2002 in the west of the country; Kul Bahadur Malla, of the newspaper Karnali Sandesh in the west, seized in June 2003; and Shakti Kumar Pun, correspondent for the national daily Rajdhani, snatched last November in Rukkum district in the west.
Reporters Without Borders called on the leadership of the CPN-M to release these three journalists in line with a promise made by Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who in September 2004 publicly ordered the release of all journalists held by his forces.
The bi-monthly Samishran in Parbat district in the west of the country was forced to shut down in the first week of December under a barrage of constant threats from Maoist rebels.
Finally, Hari Prasad Koirala, correspondent in Dharan, eastern Nepal for government daily Gorakhapatra, has received constant death threats in the past two weeks from a local criminal figure, Basudev Baral. Local sources said that Baral could be linked to the security forces, the Maoists or other criminals. The reasons for the threats were not clear.