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Journalist threatened in Morang

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Mohan Bhattrai, a reporter for the daily "Naya Patrika", was threatened by Nabaraj KC, the operator of an employment agency, in Morang, an eastern district of Nepal, on 18 August 2010.

A news report entitled "51 Nepali workers held in Libya" was published in the 18 August edition of the daily. The news story indicated that the employment agency was responsible as they had illegally sent Nepali workers to Libya.

Following the publication of the news item, KC, the owner of the Paradise Manpower Agency in Kathmandu, warned Bhattrai that he would take action against him.

According to Bhattrai, KC told him, "If you don't correct the news within 24 hours, don't think that you are safe." In addition, the agency's owner told him to be ready to face any kind of action that might be taken against him.

Freedom Forum strongly condemns this incident as it violates the journalist's right to report on issues that are of interest to the public. The Nepali constitution and other laws clearly provide for unhindered freedom in reporting on public issues. If the published news item is not accurate or balanced, there are legal remedies available to take against the newspaper and reporter. Instead of adhering to the legal remedies, the employment agency owner resorted to illegal methods and threatened the journalist.

Freedom Forum urges the appropriate government authorities to take immediate action against the individual behind this incident and provide security measures for Bhattrai. Furthermore, Freedom Forum asks KC to take legal action if the news story in question is not accurate, instead of intimidating the journalist.

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