Arrest of Journalist in Chennai Deplored

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

deplores the arrest of the news editor of a Tamil daily in Indiaafter his newspaper published an article containing offensive

information about several prominent figures in the Tamil film industry.

 

B. Lenin, of Dinamalar, was

arrested in Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu reportedly for publishing

on October 4 a purported statement by a part-time Tamil actor who had earlier been

arrested on suspicion of running a prostitution ring.

 

The actor

reportedly named several prominent figures in the Tamil film industry as her

clients and as players in the prostitution racket.

 

Dinamalar carried a

retraction and an apology the following day.

 

“The

report as it was published in Dinamalar clearly offended against ethics

and good taste,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said.

 

“There is

no doubt that the publication of the names and photographs of prominent public figures in relation to  serious offences based on the strength of

a supposed confessional statement is not ethical journalism.

 

“However,

as with any media-related dispute, it is entirely unnecessary for the

authorities to use criminal law mechanisms to arrest the paper’s news editor.”  

 

Chennai

city police arrested Lenin shortly after prominent figures from the Tamil film

industry denounced him – and, according to media reports, the profession of

journalism itself – at a public meeting on October 7. Film industry lobbies had

also reportedly intervened at the highest political levels of the state

government.

 

Lenin has

been charged with offences under a state law preventing the harassment of

women.

 

The Editors’ Guild of India, the Madras

Reporters’ Guild, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, the Tamil Nadu Press

Photographers’ Association and the All Media Journalists’ Association, have

joined the Chennai-based Madras Union of Journalists in demanding Lenin’s

immediate and unconditional release.

 

The IFJ

calls upon the leaders of the Tamil film industry to accept the retraction and

apology offered by the newspaper in good faith and seek redress for any

residual grievance that may exist through processes of civil law.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries