Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) today welcomed the release of two journalists after a year in jail under the country’s state of emergency but called for the immediate freeing of at least 18 others being held without trial. It also declared support for another 17 released earlier who are seeking compensation for unjustified imprisonment.
Govinda Acharya (editor) and Chandra Man Shrestha (managing editor) of the pro-Maoist weeklies Janadesh and Janadisha were freed from Kathmandu’s central prison on 16 December. Gopal Budhathoki, vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), who was himself jailed for several weeks earlier this year, greeted them as they came out.
Acharya, who was arrested on 26 November last year, the day the state of emergency was declared, told reporters he had not been tortured in prison but had had severe psychological problems. Shrestha had been arrested a month later. The courts asked the security forces on at least three occasions to release them.
The freeing of Acharya and Shrestha came a month after the release of seven journalists and media assistants. Three of them - Deepak Saptoka, Dipendra Rokaya and Dhana Bahadur Thapa Magar - worked on Janadesh.
Seventeen Nepalese journalists, supported by the Nepalese press freedom organisation CEHURDES, filed a joint complaint on 28 November demanding compensation from the government for unjustified imprisonment. The case is expected to be heard early next month.