Police summon editor of country’s largest newspaper

New York, March 16, 2005—Police delivered a letter today to Narayan Wagle, editor of Kantipur, Nepal’s largest daily, ordering him to present himself at the criminal investigation branch of the Kathmandu police office tomorrow morning. Wagle told CPJ that he has been asked for “clarification” of news published earlier in the week.

“The harassment of our colleague Narayan Wagle is unacceptable,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to ensure that Wagle does not face further legal action, and to stop intimidating journalists who challenge the harsh restrictions placed on them.”

The police order did not specify which news item led to the summons. Sources speculated that the order was linked to the newspaper’s March 15 coverage of banned pro-democracy protests the day before. The daily’s extensive coverage included a photo of Bal Bahadur Rai, the elderly former acting prime minister who was arrested during the demonstrations.

Editors of five Kathmandu weeklies were previously summoned to the District Administration Office after they ran blank editorial pages to protest censorship.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists yesterday called for the government to restore press freedom and to end censorship, harassment, and arrests of journalists. Hundreds of radio journalists across the country have lost their jobs, and many newspapers have been forced to stop publishing since King Gyanendra announced a state of emergency and curtailed press freedom last month.