Vinod Verma was arrested in New Delhi on October 27, 2017, on charges of extortion, intimidation, and publishing sexually explicit material, according to a report in The Indian Express newspaper. Verma and his lawyer say the allegations are in retaliation for previous reporting on corruption and threats against journalists.
Verma, a former editor at the BBC Hindi service, is accused of using a sex tape in an attempt to extort and blackmail a minister in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Chhattisgarh. He was arrested after a BJP member in the state filed a complaint on October 26 alleging that Verma threatened to release the tape unless the minister paid him hush money, according to The Indian Express. As he was being taken to court, Verma told journalists that although he did possess a copy of the alleged sex video, he was being framed.
Verma’s lawyer, Faisal Rizvi, said that the allegations were in retaliation for Verma’s past work as part of a fact-finding team appointed by the Editors Guild of India in 2016 to investigate threats against journalists. “Verma is being framed because he was part of a fact-finding team appointed by the Editors Guild,” Rizvi told CPJ. “During the course of his visit, a lot of journalists told him about corruption in the police and the difficulties they face while reporting it.”
Verma was taken to Raipur city in Chhattisgarh state following his arrest. On November 13, a local court rejected his bail application and remanded him to judicial custody until November 27, according to The Indian Express. His custody was later extended until December 11, according to a report in The Times of India.