Bishnu Khanal, Liladhar Gautam and Khadananda Lamichanne, respectively editor, executive editor and journalist with the Surkhet Post daily, were released on 23 June by security forces of Surkhet (west of the country), after a seven months’ detention. Furthermore, Ramhari Paudyal, journalist with Samacharpatra daily, was arrested by security forces on 13 June in Parphing (south of Kathmandu).
"The main international organisations for the defence of press freedom have denounced the current repression against Nepalese journalists. But your government does not heed these calls for moderation", affirmed Robert Ménard, General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières), in a letter sent to the Nepalese Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba. Reporters Without Borders protested against the prolonged detention of Prem Bastola, a Blast Times Daily reporter. "We cannot but condemn this detention and the poor treatment suffered by this journalist, which confirms Nepal-with 37 information professionals detained-in its sad position as the world’s largest prison for journalists", added Robert Ménard. "If this journalist was arrested for his articles, it is the duty of your government to free him immediately. The same applies for the other reporters some of whom have been tortured and arrested entirely illegally", concluded Mr Ménard.
According to information gathered by RSF, Prem Bastola, a Blast Times Daily journalist, has been detained since 6 May 2002 in the prison at Biratnagar (more than 400 kilometres to the south-east of Kathmandu). He was arrested by the security forces at his home at Haraicha (a small village in the east of the country). According to the weekly Jana Aastha, which reported this information, Prem Bastola has written many articles on the fighting between the Maoists and the security forces, particularly in a local publication he manages. But, according to his colleagues, he has never supported the Maoist movement considered "terrorist" by the government. Prem Bastola is reported to have been obliged to sign, under the threat of a weapon, a letter in which he acknowledged having taken photographs at Maoist meetings. Beforehand the journalist had been violently beaten by the security forces during interrogation. Important members of the Congress Party, and representatives of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and of the Blast Times Daily have rallied for his release, but to no avail.
Reporters Without Borders published its fact-finding mission’s report on the Consequences of the State of Emergency and of the Fight Against "Maoist Terrorism" Attacks on Freedom of the Press, on 16 April 2002. You can read the report on the RSF web site at www.rsf.org.