Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the intimidation intensified by the security persons on journalists over critical news on secret agreement between a foreign official and the Prime Minister.

The security persons conducted raid at the residence of journalist Babin Sharma and his office for sharing the news story originally published by another Ujyaalo News Network on April 16. Sharma is associated with an online news portal. Even the media persons at Ujyaalo News Network have been learnt to have searched, and issued threat over the news, arguing that it was ‘fake news’.

With the growing penetration of internet, social media have become popular digital public sphere in Nepal of late. As a result, the dissemination of the critical news and debate over it whether it is fake news or not and the harassment mounted against journalists has amplified accordingly.

Freedom Forum is always for journalists’ right to free reporting and freedom of expression to the people without any obstruction. In the name of ‘fake news’ the journalists must not be harassed and raided. FF vehemently condemns the raid.

There is already an institution to look after the news contents, Press Council Nepal. So the concerned sides can reach the Council in case they have dissatisfaction over the news content rather than making efforts to treat journalist as criminal.

To this, Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal said, “Although the debate whether the news was the ‘fake news’ is a good trend to sift misinformation/disinformation from the news that is developed with journalists profession, the intimidation on journalists merely for news publication and dissemination is unacceptable. It is not security persons or government to determine the fake news but the independent and professional fact-checkers. So, government must stop intimidating journalists, but take rightful measure to identify fake news and respect freedom of expression.”

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