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Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the recent incidents of digital surveillance on Nepali media. Lately, the content management software of an online news portal has been breached on December 1.

The original photos and contents published on the portal were deleted and replaced at around 12:30 am to 1:30 am with irrelevant contents.

Editor-In-Chief of the portal, KP Dhungana shared with Freedom Forum, “Total five news stories-  about a citizenship and passport issues of newly formed political party Rastriya Swatantra Party coordinator Ravi Lamichhane and a cooperative involving Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun’s son Dipesh Pun- were deleted as many times as I had uploaded. While the news URL is same to that of original ones, there are new contents and irrevelant photos, which is really shocking.”

News on Lamichhane’s dual passport and citizenship was first published on November 26 and Pun’s news on his cooperative’s fraud case was published on December 1. Editor Dhungana has been receiving abusive and threatening messages through his twitter page for publishing the above mentioned news.

Through his twitter account, editor Dhungana has warned the attackers that he would take legal action through the cyber bureau of Nepal Police.

The hacked news however, have been republished through the archived links on the portal and Dhungana has informed that their technical team are working to recover all the deleted news.

Some days back, FF had reported on the hacking of social media account of noted journalist Kishor Nepal. Two such incidents of deletion of content through online news portals in were also reported in 2020 and 2021.

Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the attack on the media which is a blatant violation of data privacy, free press, free expression and information. This incident showed investigative journalist like Dhungana are facing digital surveillance and attack in Nepal. It also indicates that critical digital public sphere is shrinking. It is condemnable. The breach has flatly violated the constitutionally guaranteed right of media, press and journalists’ rights. FF therefore strongly urges the security agencies to investigate the incident fairly and bring to book those involved in data breach.

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