In Nepal, critical journalist Kanak Mani Dixit detained in corruption case

New York, April 25, 2016–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in Nepal to immediately release Kanak Mani Dixit, the founding editor of the independent regional news magazine Himal Southasian. The journalist, who has reported critically on the country’s civil war, has been harassed and detained previously by authorities.

Dixit was detained April 22 and the following day was moved to a hospital to be treated for high blood pressure, according to media reports. He is being held in Bir Hospital in the capital, Kathmandu.

A special court ordered Dixit, who is also the chairman of a cooperative bus service, to be remanded in custody for 10 days while it investigates allegations of corruption, reports said. The court was acting on the orders of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, a constitutional body set up to investigate claims of financial irregularity and corruption among officials.

In a press release, the commission told local media that Dixit was detained over accusations of corruption in his role as chairman of the bus service, and not because of his work as a journalist. It said he was not cooperating with its investigation.

A statement released by Dixit’s outlet, Himal Southasian, denied that he had not cooperated and highlighted how Dixit had long criticized the chairman of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority.

“Kanak Mani Dixit is a well-respected voice of responsible political discourse in Nepal, and should not be treated as a common criminal.” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call on Nepalese authorities to release Dixit immediately.”

The journalist, who is known locally and internationally for his writing in Himal Southasian and other outlets, has reported critically on war crimes and the victims of Nepal’s civil conflict. In 2012, CPJ reported how he was described as a “people’s enemy” by the majority Maoist party-controlled magazine Lal Rakshak over his criticism of the party’s violent tactics. In 2005 CPJ documented how he was held for several hours and questioned after reporting critically about a takeover of the government by the king.