CPJ, nearly 400 civil society members call for immediate release of IIOJK journalist » Kashmir Media Service

New York, August 27 (KMS): New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and nearly 400 journalists, academics, press freedom advocates, and civil society members from around the world have called for immediate release of journalist, Aasif Sultan, unlawfully detained in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a statement posted on its website said, the CJP and 397 writers, journalists, academics, press freedom advocates, and civil society members have written a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, urging immediate release of Aasif Sultan

On 27 August 2020, today, Mr Sultan, who used to work with Kashmir Narrator, a regional magazine, completed two years of “unjustly [detention]” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, for his alleged complicity in “harboring known terrorists”, wrote the CPJ in the letter.

“But interviewing alleged militants or having sources who are critical of the government is within the scope of a journalist’s job and does not implicate them in any crime. Events in Kashmir are of public interest, and covering them is a public service, not a criminal act,” the CPJ wrote.

“Sultan’s trial, which began in June 2019, has been moving slowly and he has repeatedly been denied bail. Police have reportedly interrogated him about his writing and asked him to reveal his sources,” it deplored.

The statement said that given the recent deaths of journalists who contracted COVID-19 in government custody around the world, and the spread of COVID-19 among inmates in jails in IIOJK, the threat to Sultan’s well-being was significant.

It called upon the Indian government to follow the Supreme Court’s guidance issued on 23rd March to release prisoners on parole due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and grant Aasif Sultan immediate and unconditional release.

The letter, which is CC’ed to the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Gov Manoj Sinha, the CPJ stated that the journalists should not face retaliation for their reporting.

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