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Nepal: Release journalist arrested for alleged financial irregularities

Saturday 23 April 2016 - 6:16pm

563bac201830923 April 2016 - The arrest of journalist Kanak Mani Dixit in Nepal on Friday over alleged financial irregularities is very likely to be politically motivated and intended to silence his critical voice, PEN International said today. The organisation called for Dixit’s immediate release as the journalist has serious health problems.

'Kanak Mani Dixit's arrest in Nepal over alleged financial irregularities is yet another example of how governments have become more sophisticated in stifling dissent, and have been using criminal laws to harass independent and critical journalists and activists who challenge the government’, said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International Writers in Prison Committee.

Instead of responding to Dixit's concerns, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has directed his arrest in spite of the court saying that the CIAA has not followed due process. Indeed, the law should take its course, but the arrest has more to do with silencing Dixit's steadfast championing of freedom, sovereignty and democracy in Nepal. He should be released immediately.’

Sources close to Dixit claim that his arrest is a vendetta on the part of Lok Man Singh Karki, the head of the CIAA. Karki’s appointment to the CIAA had been widely criticised by civil society, including Dixit, amid allegations of corruption. Karki had previously been found ineligible for appointment to government office by the CIAA.

In December 2015, the CIAA summoned 29 individuals, including Dixit, to appear before the body on suspicion of having made illicit and unexplained financial gains. Dixit challenged the summons before the Supreme Court, which in January 2016 found that the CIAA had not followed due process in issuing the summons.

The CIAA has claimed Dixit’s arrest was necessary as he had failed to cooperate with the organisation, but sources close to Dixit dispute this, stating that not only has he appeared before the CIAA, but has also provided written submissions including details of his assets.

More than 60 writers, editors, and scholars from South Asia have called for Dixit’s release.

Dixit has previously received death threats, for example in 2012, as documented on PEN International’s Case List.

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