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India 24 December 2002

Indian military says detained journalist Gilani is innocent

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) today reiterated its call for the immediate release of detained Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani after a senior military officer yesterday told the New Delhi judge in charge of the case that the files found on his computer were "neither secrets nor a threat to national security."

In a letter to the federal interior minister and deputy prime minister, L. K. Advani, Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to explain the behaviour of the police and, in particular, to say why police lied and presented false documents to the court handling the case. The organisation also suggested that Gilani should be compensated for having been the victim of abusive detention designed to punish his critical coverage of Indian policy on Kashmir.

Gilani is the Kashmir Times bureau chief in New Delhi. He is also the correspondent of the Pakistani daily, The Nation.

The official who testified yesterday before Judge Sangita Dhingra Sehgal of the New Delhi metropolitan court was O. S. Lochab, director general of the Indian military secret service. He said his agency told the interior ministry in a 12 December letter that Gilani’s files on the position of Indian troops and paramilitary forces in Kashmir were freely available on the Internet. Gilani was not a spy, Lochab said. The police claimed not to have received this letter. The judge asked the government to clarify its position in this case at the next hearing on 3 January.

Arrested by police in New Delhi on 9 June, Gilani was charged on 7 September with "military espionage" on behalf of Pakistan. Held for the past six months in Tihar prison, he has always claimed his innocence

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