Raj Kumar Ghimire

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Police arrested Nepali journalist Raj Kumar Ghimire on November 23, 2020, for allegedly possessing an outdated press card. Once detained, police alleged that he had ties to a banned Maoist party. 

Ghimire is an associate editor at Pokhara Pati, a news website that covers the central Nepali city of Pokhara, in Gandaki province, and a reporter for the news website Sachar Kendra, according to news reports and a statement by Freedom Forum, a local human rights group.

On November 23, police in Pokhara stopped Ghimire when he returned to the city after reporting on an event hosted by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which is banned in Nepal, according to those reports. 

Police asked Ghimire to show them his notes, press card, and camera, and then arrested him for possessing an outdated press card and took him to the District Police Office, according to Freedom Forum. 

Ghimire said he had been unable to renew his press identification due to restrictions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to Freedom Forum.

District Police Chief Subash Hamal told Freedom Forum that Ghimire was not a journalist and had ties to the communist party, and that he would be held pending investigation. Police accused Ghimire of working against the state and operating an unregistered news website, according to Tribhuvan Poudel, the Gandaki province chair for the Federation of Nepali Journalists, a local press freedom advocacy group, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview.

Poudel told CPJ that Ghimire remained in police custody at the Kaski District Police Station as of December 1, 2020. He added that the Kaski District Court had granted police permission to keep Ghimire in custody without charge. 

The Kaski Police Station, where Subash Hamal serves as district chief and spokesperson, did not respond to an email from CPJ requesting comment.