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New Delhi, May 15, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday welcomed Indian court decisions to grant bail to journalists Aasif Sultan, Gautam Navlakha, and Prabir Purkayastha, who are being held under anti-terror laws, and called on the authorities to release all three men and immediately drop charges against them.

“The Indian courts’ decisions to grant bail to journalists Aasif Sultan, Gautam Navlakha, and Prabir Purkayastha are welcome news. We urge the Indian authorities to respect the judicial orders and immediately free these journalists, who should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” said CPJ India Representative Kunāl Majumder. “In all three cases, we have observed how authorities have tried to keep these journalists behind bars at all costs, particularly Sultan who has been arbitrarily detained for almost six years in a cycle of release and re-arrest. The Indian government must not target journalists for their critical reporting.”

Sultan was released on Tuesday, May 14, after he was granted bail on May 10 by a court in Srinagar, the largest city in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, according to a copy of the bail order, reviewed by CPJ, and two sources familiar with the case who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation.

Sultan, India’s longest imprisoned journalist, was first arrested under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2018 on charges of “harboring known militants” after he published a story about a slain Kashmiri militant. Sultan was granted bail in 2022 but authorities held him at a police station for five days before rearresting him under preventative custody. In December, a court quashed that second case and he was freed in February, only to be rearrested hours after he returned home on a prison riot charge.

In a separate ruling, India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Purkayastha, founder and editor-in-chief of the news website NewsClick on the grounds that the police failed to inform him of the reasons for his arrest before taking him into custody, according to news reports. Purkayastha has been held since October under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code on charges of raising funds for terrorist activities and criminal conspiracy.

The same court on Tuesday granted bail to Navlakha, a columnist at NewsClick, who has been under house arrest under the UAPA since November 2022, on accusations that he was part of a group who were responsible for violence that erupted in 2017 in the Pune district in the western state of Maharashtra, and of having links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

CPJ research shows that since 2014, at least 15 journalists have been charged or investigated under the UAPA.

Source of original article: Asia Archives – Committee to Protect Journalists (
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