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Freedom Forum condemns arrest of a journalist and threats against another

The statements were originally published on on 6 and 9 November 2016.

A reporter with the Manaskhanda Daily, Dinesh Singh Mahara, was detained on 7 November 2016 for two hours by the police at the District Police Office (DPO) of Kanchanpur while he was there to cover a news story. Kanchanpur is located in the southern plain of the country.

Speaking to Freedom Forum, Manashkhanda Daily editor Khem Bhandari said: "Reporter Mahara was arrested by an inspector when he reached the DPO to gather information [for a news story]. The reason behind the arrest was that he had been reporting on the misdeeds of the police persons."

However, Inspector Padam Raj Thapa who arrested the reporter, had accused him of recording people's conversations on the DPO premises.

 Reporter Mahara argued that he was using his mobile phone for personal purposes and not to record the activities around the DPO.

Freedom Forum condemns the incident and strongly urges the concerned District Police Office to respect journalists' right to freely report. Such hostile treatment by the security forces is detrimental to press freedom, it said.

Meanwhile, Freedom Forum also expressed its concern over the death threats received by a reporter with the Kantipur Daily in Nuwakot, Krishna Thapa. Thapa, 39, received a death threat via a phone call over the publication of a news story about the President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tara Bahadur Karki, on 24 October. Nuwakot is a hilly district adjoining the capital city.

The news published in Kantipur Daily on 22 October was about the sale of inedible beaten rice from a food store owned by Tara Bahadur Karki. The local administration found the beaten rice unhygienic during a market inspection.

Reporter Thapa told Freedom Forum: "On 23 October, Tara Bahadur called me over the telephone and threatened that he would 'finish me' because I wrote the report on the sale of unhygienic food from his store."

Freedom Forum said the incident has not only caused panic for the reporter, but could also lead to self censorship. Entrepreneurs need to be aware of journalists' rights.

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