In a letter addressed to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined 397 writers, academics, and civil society members in calling for the release of Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, who has been imprisoned for two years. He was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for his alleged complicity in “harboring known terrorists.”
This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 27 August 2020.August 27, 2020Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
Prime Minister’s Office
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi-110011, IndiaCc: Home Minister Amit Shah
Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Gov Manoj SinhaSent via emailDear Prime Minister Narendra Modi,The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined together with 397 writers, journalists, academics, press freedom advocates, and civil society members to urge you to immediately release journalist Aasif Sultan, who has been imprisoned for two years, as of today.Sultan covers politics and human rights for the Kashmir Narrator, and has been unjustly detained since August 27, 2018, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, for his alleged complicity in “harboring known terrorists.”
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.
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.
Journalists should not face retaliation for their reporting. Press freedom is a vital tenet of democracy and a proud part of India’s history. We are asking you to recognize and uphold India’s commitment to press freedom under Article 19 of its constitution.