Reporters In Nepal Face Harassment

By: Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press Writer

(AP) Nepal’s government freed two journalists detained under emergency powers this week, but reporters said Thursday they continue to face harassment and dozens more are in custody.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists said at least 63 journalists have been detained since King Gyanendra declared emergency rule Nov. 26, suspending constitutional rights and ordering an army offensive against rebels.

“Journalists in Nepal are terrified,” federation president Suresh Acharya said. “We just don’t know who will be the next one to be arrested.”

Detentions are difficult to confirm. In some cases, the journalists’ families and employers don’t know where they have been taken.

“None of these journalists in detention have been formally charged with an offense,” said Acharya. “Worse, the authorities are kidnapping journalists and hiding them for days without telling anybody their whereabouts.”

Police say some journalists have been arrested on suspicion of helping rebels, who have fought since 1996 to replace Nepal’s constitutional monarchy with a Maoist state. More than 2,600 people have died in the fighting.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said most Nepalese journalists avoided reporting on “taboo” subjects — notably those related to the armed forces — because of fear of arrest. Journalists also say articles alleging government corruption or mismanagement have landed some in jail.

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