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Nepal 5 June 2002

Reporters Without Borders asks for explanations after the arrest of three pro-Maoist journalists


Krishna Prasad Gautam, director of the Sandhyakaalin publishing house, was arrested in his office in Khatmandu, on 2 June by policemen. He publishes the Sandhyakalin daily, Prabhatkalin daily and the Janasatta weekly. He is reportedly detained at the Hanumandhoka police station, without being first charged. It brings the imprisoned media representant’s number up to thirty-seven.


Rebati Sapkota, journalist with the daily Rajhdani, was arrested at his home in Maitidevi (a suburb of Katmandu), on 24 May by plainclothes policemen. Rebati Sapkota has already been held for one month in January 1999. Security forces also arrested Meena Sharam, managing director of the monthly Ekebadhatya. This makes a total of 36 journalists and media professionals behind bars in Nepal.


Tara Neupane, a columnist for the Sanghu weekly, was arrested on 23 May by the police in Kathmandu. After being interrogated about his activities as a journalist at the Ratna park police station, he was finally released three hours later.


 image 120 x 147 (JPEG) "The arrest of three journalists accused of being pro-Maoist terrorists came shortly before 25 May when Parliament is to pronounce itself on an extension of the state of emergency". In a letter sent to the Nepalese Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Reporters Without Borders asked for further information on the arrest of three Nepalese journalists, Krishna Sen, Atindra Neupane and Sangita Khadka. ’The jailing of these journalists accused of being terrorists brings to thirty-three the number of journalists and media workers imprisoned in Nepal as part of the fight against terrorism. However the authorities have not, to date, demonstrated the direct involvement of any of these journalists in the Maoist Party at war with the Government. If, following fair and equitable trials, the judiciary proves these journalists to be involved in the Maoist movement, guilty of war crimes, Reporters Without Borders will immediately cease to defend them’, affirmed Robert Ménard, General Secretary of the organisation. He also asked the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision to extend the state of emergency which suspends in particular freedom of the press and has led to the arrest of more than 110 information professionals.

According to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, the security forces arrested on 20 May Krishna Sen, chief editor of the pro-Maoist newspaper Janadisha and former manager of the weekly Janadesh, Atindra Neupane, journalist at the daily Janadisha, and Sangita Khadka, correspondent of the weekly Jana Ahwhan, in a house in the suburbs of Katmandu. The three journalists were actively sought by the police for their involvement in the Maoist movement. Their photos and names had been broadcast two weeks beforehand, during a programme by the armed forces broadcast by the Nepalese public television. Krishna Sen was in particular presented as the person in charge of the Nepalese Communist party (Maoist) for the Katmandu region. Krishna Sen had been released on 15 March 2001 following a ruling by the supreme court after more than two years detention. The authorities brought charges against him inter alia for having published in his pro-Maoist newspaper an interview of the leader of the rebel movement, Baburam Bhattarai.

Atindra Neupane and Sangita Khadka are known for their pro-Maoist articles written in zones controlled by partisans of the popular war. According to the security forces, they are also members of the Nepalese Communist party (Maoist).

In a report published on 26 March, Reporters Without Borders revealed that more than a hundred or so journalists had been arrested and some tortured since the introduction of the state of emergency in November 2001. Thirty-three journalists and media workers are still imprisoned, under suspicion, often without proof, of supporting the Maoist rebels. Reporters Without Borders has asked the Prime Minister to use his best endeavours so that the habeas corpus proceedings brought by Nepalese barristers and by the families of the imprisoned journalists are examined with the greatest attention and the greatest respect for the law.

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