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Journalist abducted, brutally assaulted and threatened

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is deeply concerned over the 15 November 2010 abduction and assault of Sushil Dhungana, a reporter and publisher of "Ghodaghodi Weekly" published in Kailali, a far-western district of Nepal.

Dhungana was abducted by five persons on motorcycles from Naya Bazar, in eastern Nepal, while returning to Sukkhad. The gang held him under its control, took him to a community forest and cut his fingers with a blade.

"You have become a big journalist. Now you will enjoy," Dhungel quoted the group as saying before they assaulted him him.

He had published an article on 14 November entitled "Smuggling and Commission Seeking Up", highlighting the increasing smuggling and corruption in the district.

Dhungana was abducted at 3:00 p.m. and was released at around 6:00 p.m. According to him, three of the assailants riding motorcycles were wearing masks so it was difficult to identify them.

The abductors threatened to kill Dhungana if the incident was made public. He informed his colleagues about the incident only after reaching Dhangadhi, the captial of Kailali district in western Nepal, on 16 November.

"We have filed a case at the District Police Office in Kailali, asking them to investigate the incident as soon as possible," local journalist Dirgharaj Upadhyay told the Press Freedom Monitoring Desk of Freedom Forum over the phone. "We urged security forces not to keep any stone unturned in connection with the incident."

"We condemn such a brutal attack on a journalist," said Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal. "This is a clear sign that anti-press incidents are in an upsurge these days." Dahal further said that cutting the fingers of journalist because of his writing is a violation of freedom of expression and of the press, and that the incident was a sign of growing impunity in the country.

"We are very disgusted with the government's inefficiency to bring the guilty to book so as to end the culture of impunity and safeguard the media sector," added Dahal. "We always firmly stand for press freedom and express our solidarity and support for journalist Dhungana in the days to come," asserted Dahal. "We demand urgent action by the government into the incident so as to protect the media sector."

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