The army on 1st March released Dipin Rai, editor of the weekly Mukti Aawaj published in Jhapa, western Nepal. He said he had been released unconditionally but refused to give any information about his questioning by the security forces.
Three journalists released, another one arrested
Reporters Without Borders repeated an appeal for the release of the nine journalists still imprisoned in Nepal after three journalists were released on 25 February
The authorities freed Bishnu Nishthuri, Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, after 21 days imprisonment; Khem Bhandari, editor of the daily Abhiyan, and Sujeeb Bajracharya, editor of the daily City Times. Seven public figures, including a former minister and an ex-ambassador, were released on the order of Baman Prasad Neupane, head of the Kathmandu district administrative office.
Khem Bhandari, detained since 16 February, was sentenced by the authorities in Kanchanpur district in the east of the country, to pay a fine of 5,000 rupees (50 euros) for infringing the press law.
The previous day, Dipin Rai, editor of the regional weekly Mukti Aawaj and local official for the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, was arrested at his home by security forces in Jhapa, east of the country. All publications in the Jhapa district were closed on 1 February but Dipin Rai had republished his weekly on 22 February. The journalist has been held since 23 February at the barracks of the Chaar Aali battalion in Jhapa.
Eleven journalists imprisoned
Reporters Without Borders has renewed an appeal for the release of 11 journalists currently being held in prisons in Nepal.
Six of those being held were among at least 16 journalists security forces picked up after King Gyanendra seized power on 1 February and declared a state of emergency.
Nepal was already holding five journalists before the royal coup, making it, after China, Cuba and Eritrea, the world’s fourth largest prison for journalists.
"Until they are released we will continue to urge the international community, particularly the European Union, to apply political and economic sanctions against Nepal", the worldwide press freedom organisation said. It was particularly regrettable that Nepal was using exceptional and anti-terror laws to detain the journalists, it added.
The six journalists still being held after their arrest on the orders of the palace are:
Bishnu Nisthuri, Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, arrested on 4 February.
Naryan Adhikari, RSS and Kalifa FM, arrested 13 February.
Basanta Parajuli, Gorkhapatra and Synergy FM, arrested 13 February.
D. R. Panta, Kantipur, arrested 15 February.
Sujeeb Bajracharya, City Times, arrested 16 February.
Khem Bhandari, Abhiyan, arrested 16 February.
The security forces have used exceptional laws to keep the journalists in prison. Narayan Adhikari and Basanta Parajuli, arrested in Chitawan district, were placed in custody for 90 days under the state of emergency. Police who arrested them said it was for criticising the king’s orders. Their families can visit them daily for 10 minutes. In the far west of the country, Bhandari, editor of the local daily Abhiyan, was detained for covering a local opposition demonstration. Police had previously arrested him at the beginning of February.