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CPJ condemns editor's arrest

(CPJ/IFEX) - In a 12 November 2002 letter to Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand, CPJ condemned the 12 November arrest of Tikaram Rai, editor of the Nepali-language daily "Aparanha". Rai was arrested in Kathmandu following the complaint of a senior police officer accused of bribery in a recent "Aparanha" article.

Rai is being detained at Kathmandu's Hanuman Dhoka District Police Office, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ). A police officer told The Associated Press (AP) news agency that Rai could be held for up to 10 days for questioning.

"Aparanha" had recently reported that police officer Basanta Kuwar had received bribes for issuing driver's licenses, pocketing some 16 million rupees (US$205,000), said the Agence France-Presse news agency. Kuwar says that the report amounts to character assassination and filed a criminal
complaint under Nepal's Public Offence Act, according to AP.

CPJ believes that no journalist should ever be imprisoned for his or her professional work. If an individual finds a particular article defamatory, then proper recourse should be sought through the civil courts.

CPJ is deeply concerned about the erosion of press freedom in Nepal. Journalists there are already extremely vulnerable to arrest under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention and Control) Ordinance, known as TADO, which was introduced in November 2001 to contain the Maoist insurgency. More than 100 journalists have been detained during the last year under TADO's broad provisions, according to the FNJ.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the prime minister:
- urging him to ensure that no journalist in Nepal is jailed for exercising the right to free expression
- calling for Rai's immediate release

Appeals To

Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister's Office
Singh Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Fax: +977 122 6286

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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