Journalists should not be jailed for what they write, tweet, and say, a spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday in response to the arrest of Alt News co-founder Muhammad Zubair in India, asserting that it is important that people be allowed to express themselves freely without the threat of any harassment.
Fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets posted in 2018.
He was produced before a magistrate, who sent him to police custody for a day.
Responding to the journalist Zubair’s arrest, spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said: “In any place around the world, it is very important that people be allowed to express themselves freely, journalists be allowed to express themselves freely and without the threat of any harassment”.
Dujarric was responding to a question at the daily news briefing here on Zubair’s arrest.
“Journalists should not be jailed for what they write, what they tweet and what they say. And that goes for anywhere in the world, including in this room,” Dujarric said in response to another question by a Pakistani journalist on whether he is also calling on Zubair’s release from custody.
Zubair’s arrest came days after the Gujarat authorities arrested Teesta Setalvad on charges of “criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The UN Human Rights agency has voiced concern over the arrest and detention of social activist Setalvad and called for her immediate release.
Setalvad was detained from her house in Juhu area of Mumbai on Saturday afternoon after an FIR was registered against her at the Ahmedabad crime branch based on a complaint lodged by crime branch inspector DB Barad. She was brought to Ahmedabad via road by the Gujarat police squad.
The Ahmedabad crime branch on Sunday arrested Setalvad, a day after she was detained in Mumbai and shifted to Gujarat.
“#India: We are very concerned by the arrest and detention of #WHRD @TeestaSetalvad and two ex-police officers and call for their immediate release. They must not be persecuted for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 #GujaratRiots,” UN Human Rights tweeted on Tuesday.
A court in Ahmedabad on Sunday remanded social activist Setalvad and former state director general of police RB Sreekumar into police custody till July 2 in a case of fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Former IPS officer and accused Sanjiv Bhatt, who is serving life sentence in a custodial death case and is lodged in a jail in Palanpur in Banaskantha district, will be brought to Ahmedabad on a transfer warrant.
Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt are accused of abusing the process of law by conspiring to fabricate evidence with an attempt to frame innocent people for an offence punishable with capital punishment in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.
An FIR was registered against Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by the SIT to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 riots cases. (PTI)