The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins
partners in India in welcoming the release on bail of Syed Mohammad Ahmad
Kazmi, an Indian journalist held in custody for seven months on charges of terrorism.
Following orders passed by the Supreme Court of India
on October 19, Kazmi was released after posting a bail bond of two hundred
thousand Indian rupees (roughly four thousand U.S. dollars) the following day.
arrested on March 6 on charges of aiding and abetting a February 15 bomb
attack on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in India’s capital city. At that time, he
was working for an Iranian news agency in Delhi and also for India’s
state-owned TV channel, Doordarshan, as a news presenter in Urdu language
bulletins. His bail application which first came up before the Chief
Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi in April, was
turned down on the grounds that investigations were still
underway. On June 2, despite charges still not being laid, the Magistrate
extended Kazmi’s remand beyond the ninety days permitted under Indian law.
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), a constituent
unit of the IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union, had demanded that the
Special Cell of the Delhi Police which had arrested Kazmi, follow a policy of
full transparency in pursuing the case. Information since made available points
to a possibility that Kazmi’s arrest was made on unclear and insufficient
The DUJ has welcomed Kazmi’s release on bail. In a
statement released on October 23, DUJ President Sujata Madhok and General
Secretary, S.K. Pande, called for a rigorous introspection from the media on the
coverage of Kazmi’s arrest, and its implications for press freedom and human
A substantial part of the case against Kazmi was built
on his telephone records, which revealed a number of calls to Iran’s capital, Tehran,
around the time that the bomb attack against the Israeli diplomatic vehicle
occurred. The DUJ has argued that this was in all probability, only about Kazmi
attending to his professional responsibilities as a reporter for a news agency
based in the Iranian capital city.
“Journalists have to maintain all sorts of contacts
and speak to a variety of sources for their news stories”, said the DUJ. “Such
connections for professional purposes should not be misconstrued as active
collusion or connivance in dubious activities, including crime”.
The IFJ once again underlines the need for full
transparency on the part of the prosecution and calls for strict adherence to
the principle of thepresumption of innocence, when hearings in the
case resume in the Delhi Sessions Court.
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