The Kathmandu District Court on Friday has released Editor-in-Chief of Khojtalas weekly Raju Basnet on normal date stating that Basnet had republished an already published piece and the issue can also be handled by the Press Council Nepal.
Basnet in his statement argued he cannot be charged of cyber crime as he had just republished the piece and even published a rebuttal of the piece. The bench of Justice Krishna Prasad Paudel ordered Basnet’s release on date stating that the issue can also be handled by the Press Council Nepal.
“The court has ordered his release but the police are saying they will take him to Jawalakhel for medical,” Basnet’s wife Ramita told Setopati.
Chief of Lalitpur SSP Rabindra Dhanuk said Basnet was brought to Lalitpur to hand over his belongings and has already been released now.
Basnet was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Range Lalitpur from his home in Thencho, Lalitpur Monday morning over a piece about pressure by lawmakers to illegally sell land of Harisiddhi Brick and Tile Factory.
Drishti weekly had published a piece titled ‘Lawmakers put pressure to illegally sell land of Harisiddhi‘ about lawmakers including Pampha Bhusal of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) putting pressure to illegally sell the land of Harisiddhi Brick and Tile Factory on September 4. Khojtalas had republished the piece changing the headline to ‘People’s representatives or land brokers?‘ two days later.
The police arrested journalist Basnet, and took him away in handcuffs, after one Sushil Khanal–advocate of lawmaker Bhusal, according to Basnet’s wife Ramita–moved a cyber crime case in the Kathmandu District Court against Khojtalas claiming the news defamed him.
The Press Council Nepal, the official body for complaints against journalists and news, was not even informed about Banset’s arrest.
Arrest of a journalist and him being hand-cuffed in particular was widely criticized and the issue was raised in the parliament on Friday. Responding to the queries of lawmakers, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa conceded that there were some lapses while taking Basnet in custody. “There are reservations that a journalist was handcuffed. We have asked the police why they did so and also instructed them to not repeat that in the coming days,” Minister Thapa said.