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Nepalese journalist questioned and threatened over report

A reporter with the National News Agency (RSS) of Nepal, Purna Prasad Mishra, was held and questioned for more than three hours by a pastor who is also the owner of a school, Anka Dhoj Mote. The incident occured on 17 June 2014, in the capital city, Kathmandu.

Mishra was held by some of Mote's employees while he was taking photographs of a church managed by the board of the Hope Imperial School, at Jorpati in the capital city.

The reporter faced a flurry of threatening questions from Mote, questions such as "Why did you photograph this church? Who has given you the right to publish a story on it? Who are you to photograph it?". Mishra was grilled for over three hours, even though he explained that he was a reporter and was reporting on the church which is run on the school premises.

The reporter further told the Freedom Forum's media monitoring desk that he, along with the church pastor and his staff were taken to the police station, in Bouddha. The reporter explained to the police that he was a reporter doing a story and had taken the photographs of the church which was hidden inside the school under the school's name.

Although he was released by the police some hours later, the pastor has continued to put pressure on Mishra to delete the photos of the church. "I fear I could be attacked as the pastor has not stopped threatening me with physical consequences," the reporter told Freedom Forum's monitoring desk.

"Detaining and questioning a journalist merely over his reporting is condemnable. Even the police initially echoed the school owner's intimidation tactics which alarmed the journalist. Such grilling even though the journalist shared his identity is aimed at silencing journalist, smothering the free press and depriving people of their right to information," observed Taranath Dahal, Chairperson of Freedom Forum.

Freedom Forum therefore condemns the incident, and strongly urges the security forces to fend off any possible attacks against Mishra. Moreover, the concerned parties need to understand the value of a free press in a democratic society.

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