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Nepalese journalist who had previously been targeted assaulted again

This statement was originally published on nepalpressfreedom.org on 3 August 2015.

In a gross violation of press freedom, Sandeep Yogi, a reporter with Image News FM, was attacked by unknown persons in the Koteshwor area of Kathmandu, on 2 August 2015. Yogi had previously been assaulted by security personnel of a high ranking official and subsequently expelled by his media employer. He has also been receiving threats of further attacks.

"[Given] the flurry of threats, Yogi has stopped receiving phone calls and switched off his mobile phone," said Ram Prasad Dahal, a member of the Image Journalists Rights Protection Committee, adding that Yogi was attacked and threatened in connection with his reporting.

The journalist himself posted on Facebook, "I escaped serious injuries in the attack on Sunday evening, and am not deterred by such a cowardly attack."

Commenting on the case Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal said, "Such a string of attacks and threats against the reporter Yogi coupled with his expulsion by the media house is a blatant suppression of press freedom, and a stark violation of journalists' rights . . . It is an attempt to silence the media. Such activities never suit any democratic country. All bodies concerned need to make a serious effort to help prevent further untoward incidents against Yogi and to ensure that there is respect for journalists' right to freely report."

Background

Previously, on 28 July, the management of Image News FM in Kathmandu terminated Yogi following an incident during which the journalist was harassed by security personnel guarding the vehicle of a high ranking official.

A day before, Yogi had photographed the traffic congestion created by the vehicle (as it was violating traffic rules) of the Chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), Lokman Singh Karki, near the CIAA gate, Tangal, in the capital city.
The journalist was then attacked by security personnel attending Mr Karki, detained for one hour, and the photos were deleted.

Instead of standing by and protecting its reporter, the FM management expelled Yogi, saying his news story created a negative image of the media house. The reporter received the news of the unexpected termination from Program Manager Anupa Shrestha. He was reportedly told over the phone, "Yesterday's news (incident) has tarnished the image of the media house. You should stop coming to the office. Your payment will be provided later." Moreover, Image News FM failed to report on the assault on Yogi by the security personnel.

"I worry that working journalists (reporters) now need to make a list of the friends of their media owners and not report on their activities, disregarding their wrongdoings," said the journalist further lamenting that even the senior journalists in his media house, who always advocated for the rights of journalists, failed to speak out on his case.

Freedom Forum condemns both attacks and the journalist's termination and strongly urges the media house to unconditionally restore Yogi's position and respect his rights. The security authorities must ensure that the journalist is safe so that he does not have to go into hiding for fear of further attacks.

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