Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the release of two jailed journalists
after varying terms in custody on questionable charges.
Laxman Choudhary, a journalist for
the daily Sambad in the eastern state of Orissa, was arrested on
September 21 on charges of ostensibly “waging war against the state”. This
followed the discovery of a parcel containing Maoist literature addressed to
Media reports in Orissa indicated
that Choudhary was a popular figure in his home district of Gajapati and had
acquired a reputation for exposing police corruption.
Orissa’s chief minister was on
record within a week of Choudhary’s arrest, sharply criticising the effort to
muzzle the press. Yet it was not until December 4 that Choudhary was released
on bail, ordered by the High Court of Orissa. He continues to face charges of
sedition and will suffer significant restrictions on free movement as a bail
A.S. Mani, editor of the weekly
magazine Naveena Netrikan, in Madurai
city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, was arrested on October 25
following a complaint about an article alleging a close nexus between a Madurai businessman and the local Member of Parliament and
Minister in India’s
Union Cabinet, M.K. Azhagiri.
The article published in Mani’s
weekly alleged that the businessman had a decisive influence in the award of
public works contracts in Madurai
and nearby districts, and was involved in collecting kickbacks from successful
Mani was arrested under sections of
Indian criminal law relating to causing enmity between communities, defamation
and intent to cause disharmony. Due to concerns about his safety in Madurai, he was transported
by police to a prison in the state capital of Chennai.
Mani was released on November 27
following the grant of bail by the Madras High Court in Chennai. He will
continue to face charges and a long and potentially difficult legal battle.
“The IFJ is concerned at the use of
special security legislation and criminal defamation laws against journalists
We urge authorities to deal with these two journalists in particular and the
media in general with full transparency and recognition of the right to
information,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries