Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Reporters Without Borders Press Release: Eleven Nepali Journalists Imprisoned

22 February 2005


Reporters Without Borders has renewed an appeal for the release of 11 journalists currently being held in prisons in Nepal.

Six of those being held were among at least 16 journalists security forces picked up after King Gyanendra seized power on 1 February and declared a state of emergency.

Nepal was already holding five journalists before the royal coup, making it, after China, Cuba and Eritrea, the world's fourth largest prison for journalists.

"Until they are released we will continue to urge the international community, particularly the European Union, to apply political and economic sanctions against Nepal", the worldwide press freedom organisation said. It was particularly regrettable that Nepal was using exceptional and anti-terror laws to detain the journalists, it added.

The six journalists still being held after their arrest on the orders of the palace are:

Bishnu Nisthuri, Secretary General of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, arrested on 4 February.

Naryan Adhikari, RSS and Kalifa FM, arrested 13 February.

Basanta Parajuli, Gorkhapatra and Synergy FM, arrested 13 February.

D. R. Panta, Kantipur, arrested 15 February.

Sujeeb Bajracharya, City Times, arrested 16 February.

Khem Bhandari, Abhiyan, arrested 16 February.

The security forces have used exceptional laws to keep the journalists in prison. Narayan Adhikari and Basanta Parajuli, arrested in Chitawan district, were placed in custody for 90 days under the state of emergency. Police who arrested them said it was for criticising the king's orders. Their families can visit them daily for 10 minutes. In the far west of the country, Bhandari, editor of the local daily Abhiyan, was detained for covering a local opposition demonstration. Police had previously arrested him at the beginning of February.

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