Indian court orders release of journalist held for Twitter post on Hindu leader

He was detained by plainclothes police last week after a tweet about a woman claiming to be in love with Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. (File/Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2019

Indian court orders release of journalist held for Twitter post on Hindu leader

  • The detention drew criticism from media groups and opposition parties, amid fears that the BJP could look to clamp down on the press
  • Two other journalists were also arrested last week for holding a discussion on the woman’s claim about Adityanath

NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Monday ordered the release of a journalist arrested for a social media post about a Hindu nationalist state chief minister, in a case that highlighted growing concerns over free speech and media freedom.
Prashant Kanojia, 26, was detained by plainclothes police last week after a tweet about a woman claiming to be in love with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Kanojia’s wife said in a petition filed before the Supreme Court.
A firebrand Hindu monk, Adityanath is a leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power at the federal level and in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state.
“We order immediate release of the petitioner from jail,” Justice Indira Banerjee said in her order, despite a lawyer for the state government arguing that Kanojia’s post was highly inflammatory.
Banerjee also reprimanded the state government for being heavy-handed in its response to Kanojia’s post. “We can understand that the tweets should not be made. But arresting?” she said.
The detention drew criticism from media groups and opposition parties, amid fears that the BJP could look to clamp down on the press after Modi last month secured a landslide mandate in a general election.
“Whatever the accuracy of the woman’s claims, to register a case of criminal defamation against the journalists for sharing it on the social media and airing it on a television channel is a brazen misuse of law,” the Editors Guild of India said in a statement.
Two other journalists were also arrested last week for holding a discussion on the woman’s claim about Adityanath, said police in Noida, a sprawling Uttar Pradesh city on the outskirts of New Delhi.
Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, a political stronghold of Adityanath, arrested one person on Sunday for sharing another social media post on the chief minister, two police said.
Rahul Gandhi, chief of India’s main opposition Congress party, said Adityanath was acting “foolishly” in going after journalists.
“If every journalist who files a false report or peddles fake, vicious RSS/BJP sponsored propaganda about me is put in jail, most newspapers/ news channels would face a severe staff shortage,” he said in a tweet, referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s fountainhead.
India is ranked 140 out of 180 in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, which lists police violence against journalists as a striking characteristic of the country’s press environment.


Wikipedia the latest battleground in Lebanon's protests

Updated 3 min 46 sec ago

Wikipedia the latest battleground in Lebanon's protests

LONDON: Lebanon’s anti-government protesters have taken their battle from the streets of Beirut to the pages of one of the world’s most viewed websites.

Activists on Monday managed to change a section heading of the Wikipedia page “Parliament of Lebanon” to “Lebanese Robbery.”

Within a couple of minutes, Wikipedia’s editing team had reverted the page back to its original title stating that they were “reverting vandalism.” 

However, a cat and mouse game began thereafter and the web user operating from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, kept changing the title to “Lebanese Robbery” as the Wikipedia team kept reverting it back to its original name.

 

 After about six minutes, the section was locked by a senior Wikipedia editor to “protect ‘Parliament of Lebanon’ from disruptive editing,” according to the page’s revision history.

The section has been locked until Nov. 25.

Lebanon has been plunged into political and economic turmoil by a wave of protests that erupted on Oct. 17.

“Vandalism” of Wikipedia pages is common involving celebrities, sports events and entertainment, but it is rare for a major change on a page related to a highly sensitive political issue to remain unnoticed for more than a minute.

Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia that relies upon a community of volunteer users to create and curate the content.

The demonstrations in Lebanon against corruption, the ruling elite and the sectarian system of governance, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The protests have also led to the biggest financial crisis faced by the country since its civil war.