New York, November 14, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release on bail today of Lingaram Kodopi, an Indian journalist who has been imprisoned for more than two years, and calls on authorities to drop all charges against him.
The Indian Supreme Court granted Kodopi interim bail on Tuesday, forbidding him from entering Chhattisgarh state and ordering him to check in weekly with a local police station in Delhi, according to local news reports. Kodopi was released from jail today. His next court hearing is scheduled for December 3, the reports said.
“We are relieved that Lingaram Kodopi walks free as a result of this small but significant step by the Indian Supreme Court,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “We call on authorities to stop abusing Indian laws to impede Kodopi from doing his journalistic work.”
Police in Chhattisgarh state arrested Kodopi in September 2011 and charged him with sedition, waging war against the state, and criminal conspiracy under the Indian penal code, and for anti-state activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, news magazine Tehelka reported. He was accused of masterminding an attack against a local politician in 2010 and facilitating a money exchange between Maoists and a representative of a steel company wanting to operate in a Maoist insurgent-controlled area, local news reports said.
Kodopi denied the allegations and said the police had targeted him because of his refusal to work for them and because of his work exposing police wrongdoing. In April 2011, the journalist had documented the destruction of three Dantewada district villages during an anti-Maoist police operation.
In May 2013, a court acquitted Kodopi of masterminding the attack against the politician.
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