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US should address press freedom during talks with India

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, June 7, 2012 - Secretary Clinton should raise press freedom issues during the upcoming US-India Strategic Dialogue, including that two Indian journalists remain in jail on antistate charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to the State Department.

June 7, 2012

The Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Via facsimile: +1 (202) 647-2283

Dear Secretary Clinton:

We are writing in advance of the third India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue coming up on June 13, which you will co-chair in Washington, D.C., with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. India is host to a vital and thriving news media, but CPJ has documented several violations against Indian journalists that are undermining the country's tradition of a free press.

In preparation for next week's dialogue, Robert Blake, assistant secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, praised U.S.-Indian cooperation on "issues related to counterterrorism and homeland security." But CPJ has noted with concern that Indian authorities have in fact used harsh counterterrorism measures to retaliate against domestic journalists who document state-sponsored human rights violations against civilians carried out as part of India's war on insurgent Maoist groups.

Police arrested Sudhir Dhawale, who documented human rights violations for the Marathi-language monthly Vidrohi, on January 2, 2011, and charged him with sedition and involvement with a terrorist group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, according to news reports. He was later charged with waging war against the state, which carries a potential death penalty under the Indian penal code. Dhawale's supporters said he was detained because he was a critic of a state-supported, anti-Maoist militia active in Chhattisgarh. The journalist continues to await trial while in prison.

Lingaram Kodopi, a freelance journalist, was arrested on September 10, 2011, on anti-state charges that human rights groups have called retaliatory. Kodopi was accused of accepting a bribe from a representative of a steel company wanting to operate in a Maoist insurgent-controlled area, but the journalist has denied the charge and said he was targeted by police.

Read the full letter

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