CPJ writes to J&K Governor seeking release of Kashmiri journalist

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Jammu, Jan 16 (IANS) The Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday wrote to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik seeking release of a Kashmiri journalist who was arrested in August last year.

The letter written by Asian programme coordinator of CJP, Steven Butler, said Aasif Sultan, a Kashmiri journalist, had been falsely accused of having links with militants and promoting their cause.

“His editor and family have credibly disputed these claims and said his work was strictly that of a journalist gathering news”, the letter said.

Sultan wrote a cover story in July last year for a local newspaper about slain Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

“The police have reportedly subjected Sultan to repeated interrogation during his detention over the article, asking him to reveal his sources and why he reported on the conflict in Kashmir, as well as questions on headlines that appeared in the newspaper,” said Butler.

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“We understand that Jammu and Kashmir is facing a difficult situation, but CPJ would like to stress that interviewing or having sources who are critical of the government is within the scope of a journalists’ job and does not implicate them in a crime.

“Reporting on an important and newsworthy story such as the conflict in Kashmir is a public service, not a criminal act,” Butler added.

“In the past year, CPJ has documented various attacks against journalists, including the murder of Shujaat Bukhari and the questioning and detention of multiple reporters for their work,” the letter said.

“Freedom of the press is a vital tenet of democracy and a proud part of India’s history. We urge you to use the authority vested in you to ensure that Aasif Sultan is released and that the charges against him are dropped”, said Butler.

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–IANS

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