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Editor of Tamil newspaper arrested by police without warrant

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 9 October - The Editors' Guild of India and other local journalists' associations on Thursday condemned the arrest and summary sentencing of the editor of Tamil newspaper Dinamalar, B. Lenin.

On Wednesday, security agents in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu state, entered the offices of the Tamil daily newspaper, and took the news editor with them.

Lenin's arrest came after Dinamalar reported that a Tamil Film industry actress had been arrested on prostitution allegations, and had allegedly made a "confession" naming other actresses involved in the sex trade.

Local news sources reported that the arresting officers were in plainclothes and did not have a warrant.

Lenin was quickly brought before a magistrate, who sentenced him to 15 days in "judicial custody". He was not provided with legal counsel, nor was he given a chance to explain his version of events.

On Thursday , journalists gathered in Chennai to demand Lenin's release as members of the South India Film Artists Association (SIFAA) met with Mr M Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, to thank him for the arrest.

He was granted unconditional bail today, Friday 9 October.

According to a statement made by Police Commissioner T. Rajendran, Lenin was arrested for violating Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment (Prevention) Act, following a complaint received by police from an actors' association.

In a joint statement reprinted by , Chennai journalists' associations noted that while they "do not approve of in the least the salacious reports carried by the daily," the "proper course of action would have been to file a civil defamation case."

"It is unacceptable for a journalist to be arrested and sentenced to any period of detention simply for reporting in a case like this," said IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel-McKenzie. "If the person or persons involved have a complaint about the reporting, they should take it up at a civil, not criminal, legislative level, or with the appropriate press bodies."

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