Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
India 17 March 2005

Press group harasses blogger

Reporters Without Borders has expressed its concern to the head of the Times of India press group about its lawyers’ harassment of a journalist running the weblog, which has driven him to close it.

"Against a background in which bloggers are being harassed and imprisoned in all four corners of the world, this type of step on the part of a media firm appears to us misplaced," the worldwide press freedom group said in a 17 March letter to the managing director of the Times of India, Vineet Jain.

"Reporters Without Borders urges you to drop all harassment or legal action against Pradyuman Maheshwari, who runs the weblog", the letter said.

"We are contacting you as the result of a letter drawn up by your company’s lawyers instructing this weblogger to delete 19 messages seen as "defamatory" of the Times of India and its management. On receipt of this letter and for fear of a long and costly legal action being launched against him, Pradyuman Maheshwari decided to shut down his blog.

"After examining the offending articles, it seems to us that this journalist was only exercising his right to comment on and criticise your group’s commercial strategy and, more generally, his right to freedom of expression.

"Moreover, as a media owner, you can easily imagine that such a step could have harmful consequences for free expression. It could effectively dissuade other website managers from handling business news, which they have every right to do.

"Against a background in which bloggers are being harassed and imprisoned in all four corners of the world, this type of step on the part of a media firm appears to us misplaced.

We are ready to discuss this case with you at your convenience".

A law firm engaged by the Times of India wrote to Pradyuman Maheshwari on 5 March 2005, instructing him to remove 19 articles posted online that it considered "defamatory" and likely to "tarnish the image" of the press group.

After receiving this letter, Maheshwari decided, on 10 March, to close his weblog. "I think that I would win a possible defamation case against the Times of India. But I am only one journalist against a powerful press group. If they act against my blog on future occasions, sooner or later, I will have to close it. I prefer to anticipate any problems in advance and shut down this publication," he told Reporters Without Borders.

Documents relating to the case, including the letter from the Times of India’s lawyers, can be read on

Indian Internet-users have launched an online petition to back Mediaah. Sign the petition.

In this country
25 March - India
Newspaper editor gunned down in Assam
18 December - India
Journalist Lenin Kumar Roy and two assistants freed on bail
27 November - India
Journalist investigating drug trafficking gunned down in Bihar state
24 November - India
Journalist gunned down in Assam, second to be killed on northeast in past week
19 November - India
Trainee journalist gunned down in Manipur, local media stage protests

in the annual report
India - Annual report 2008
India - Annual report 2007
India - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised