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Senior police officer issues death threat against journalist in Nepal

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is gravely concerned over a death threat a senior police officer issued against journalist Hemanta Poudel, a reporter with the Samacharpatra daily from Kailali, a district in the far western region of Nepal.

On August 14, 2012, Superintendent of Police Ghanashyam Aryal issued the death threat against the reporter through his confidante and accountant at the District Police Office, Jay Bahadur Singh.

The threat is linked to a report by Poudel which was published in his local newspaper, Sudoor Sandesh daily, on August 12. The report was about "police officers taking bribes from smugglers at various check points in the district."

Poudel is also the publisher and chief editor of Sudoor Sandesh.

Talking to Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk over the telephone, Poudel said, "I had published in detail the news about the smuggling being carried out in collusion with the police. The story was so detailed that names of police personnel who are involved were clearly mentioned, along with the amount of the bribes, and the specific smugglers and checkpoints."

After the report was published, Superintendent of Police Aryal initially warned the journalist not to be "overly smart but act in accordance with the times, and be careful in [his] reporting."

Moreover, on August 14, through his confidante Singh, the Superintendent threatened Poudel, relaying the information that had the incident taken place in the eastern part of the country, the journalist would already have been "finished off". Anyway, he "would be killed soon", Singh reportedly told the journalist, repeating the words of the Superintendent.

Freedom Forum condemns this abhorrent incident, which involves individuals who are assigned by the State to provide security and are instead terrorising a citizen.

This is a serious case of press freedom violation, the organisation says. It strongly urges the Home Ministry to investigate the incident, mete out punishment to the police personnel, including SP Aryal, and provide security for Poudel.

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