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Police threaten, arrest journalists in Nepal

On 16 December 2013, Deputy Superintendent of Police Govind Acharya threatened two reporters with filing a case against them under the cybercrime law, in connection with a news report on the misuse of public vehicles in Taplejung. Taplejung is a district in the mountainous area of eastern Nepal.

DSP Acharya issued the threat against Devraj Gurung, a reporter for ABC TV, and Rabin Bhattarai of the Nepal Samacharpatra daily.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, reporter Gurung said that DSP Acharya had threatened him over the phone saying that he would file a case against the two journalists. They had reported that government officials in the district headquarters had misused vehicles to travel to a picnic spot. "I and my family suffered mentally due to DSP Acharya's threat," Gurung said, adding however that DSP Acharya apologised after news of his threat was disseminated.

In a separate incident in the capital city, Kathmandu, on 17 December, two journalists were detained for two hours by the police under the direction of Additional Inspector General of Police, Ram Nath Singh.

Police arrested reporter Nirash Tamang of the Himalayan Television, and camera person Shailendra Chaudhari, while they were reporting on the health condition of a sub Inspector of police who was injured in a clash with smugglers, according to the press release issued by Himalayan TV.

Freedom Forum condemns both incidents which have violated press freedom. These are of concern as they involve police persons who are responsible for maintaining peace and security in the community. Instead, they have acted in a hostile way towards the journalists, thus breaching the latter's right to freely report.

The police officials must abide by press freedom, respect journalists' right to free reporting and people's right to receive information, all essential elements of a democratic culture.

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