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June 14, 2024, Friday
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Global Media bodies take serious exception to KMG Chairman’s arrest

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Several global media organizations have taken serious exception to the arrest of Kantipur Media Group Chairman Kailash Sirohiya and termed the government action as vengeful.

They have expressed their concern over the detention of a media person for relentlessly covering the wrongdoings of a minister. Media outlets of Kantipur Media Group have been regularly reporting on the involvement of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane, who also chairs the Rashtriya Swatantra Party, in the embezzlement of millions of rupees of public money deposited in various cooperatives.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday expressed alarm over the arrest of Sirohiya and called on Nepali authorities not to harass or intimidate the leadership or staff of the country’s largest media group in retaliation for its reporting.

“The arrest of Kantipur Media Group chairperson Kailash Sirohiya from his place of work appears to be an effort to muzzle the critical reporting of Nepal’s largest media group,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “We call on Nepali authorities to ensure that Kantipur Media Group can work freely and without fear of reprisal.”

Likewise, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest organization of journalists, said on Thursday that Sirohiya’s arrest “is deeply concerning, especially considering the ongoing investigative work focused on allegations of misconduct by the home minister”.

It stated that “investigations against journalists and media personnel cannot be informed by personal or political reasons, and authorities must ensure that Nepal’s commitments to press freedom are upheld.”

The IFJ noted that “the chairman’s arrest comes following a series of reports detailing allegations that Lamichhane had misappropriated millions of Nepali rupees in savings at a cooperative fund while he was the managing director of the Gorkha Media Network.”

Police had arrested Sirohiya from his office at the KMG headquarters in Thapathali, Kathmandu on Tuesday. The security personnel subsequently took him to Dhanusha, where a complaint was filed against him.

The Dhanusha District Court on Wednesday remanded him to three days in custody.

 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international organization focused on safeguarding the right to freedom of information, demanded the release of KMG Chairman Kailash Sirohiya.

Listing Sirohiya under its detained media personnel list, the RSF said that he must be released and the work of KMG protected.

“KMG President Kailash Sirohiya has been detained for two days in reprisal for an investigation into the involvement of the Ministry of the Interior in a case of fraud & embezzlement,” the organization said in its statement posted on social media on Thursday.

“He must be released and the work of the KMG protected, not hindered!”

Meanwhile, the United States-based Society of Professional Journalists has also questioned the motive behind Sirohiya’s arrest.

“We join the Federation of Nepali Journalists in questioning the actual motives behind the arrest,” SPJ said in a statement. “The FNJ said the arrest casts aspersions on the entire news-gathering sector. They added that the arrest of Sirohiya appears vindictive in nature.”

The organization has called on the government to release Sirohiya while this investigation takes place and to reaffirm its commitment to a free and unfettered press.