Editor detained, harassment continues in Nepal

New York, January 23, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention on Sunday of Khem Bhandari, editor and publisher of the daily newspaper Abhiyan in the western city of Mahendranagar. The government gave no reason for Bhandari’s arrest.

Shyam Shrestha, editor of the monthly magazine Mulyankan who was detained last Wednesday in Kathmandu, remained in custody without charge. More than 250 people have been arrested in a renewed crackdown by the government of King Gyanendra. The government’s decision to block a protest scheduled for last week has triggered widespread street demonstrations.

Nepalese journalists say government forces have targeted reporters and photographers covering the ongoing protests in and around the capital. “Every day they beat two or three more reporters. The police accuse them of inciting the demonstrators,” said Guna Raj Luitel, news editor of Kantipur Daily in Kathmandu.

“Khem Bhandari and Shyam Shrestha are being held without cause and should be released immediately,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director. “We call on the government to halt its campaign of intimidation and harassment of journalists covering demonstrations.”

The press has faced vast government censorship and harassment since Gyanendra seized absolute power in a coup on February 1, 2005.