In Nepal, e-mail claims journalist killed during abduction

New York, July 11, 2007—A freelance reporter remained missing in Nepal today, nearly a week after he was abducted from his home in the western district of Kanchanpur, according to international and local news reports. On Monday, a group calling itself the National Republican Army Nepal (NRAN) claimed in an e-mail that it had killed reporter Prakash Thakuri and accused him of “propaganda in support of the monarchy.”

“We are concerned about the safety of Prakash Thakuri and call on authorities to pursue all leads in their investigation,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “If this journalist has been targeted for reporting in support of the monarchy, then the attack on him is also an attack on Nepal’s still fragile press freedom.”

Thakuri’s wife, Janaki, told police that motorcyclists she believed to be Maoists abducted the reporter at 10 a.m. on July 5, according to the Web site NepalNews. Police arrested a suspect who confessed involvement in the abduction, international and local news media reported.

In a press conference on Monday, members of the Maoist party said that they were not responsible for the abduction, according to the umbrella journalist group Federation of Nepalese Journalists. Maoists recently joined the government as a political party after abandoning a 10-year insurgency to overthrow the monarchy.

NRAN was not previously known, and officials are still trying to determine the e-mail’s origin, The Associated Press reported.

In the e-mail, which was sent to Nepalese news media and officials, NRAN said that it had killed Thakuri as he attempted to flee. The note did not give a time or place for the killing, and police continued their search for the abducted journalist, AP reported.

Thakuri was a supporter of Nepal’s King Gyanendra, who was forced to give up absolute power amid a popular uprising in 2006. A former editor for the daily Aajako Samachar, he was a prominent member of the pro-monarch journalist group National Journalists Federation (NJF), local newspapers reported.

In its e-mail, NRAN threatened to take similar actions against others it perceives as supporters of the monarchy.