IFJ Welcomes Release of Two Jailed Journalists in India


The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the release of two jailed journalists

in India,

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

in India.

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.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919



represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries