New Delhi: A poster by Committee to Protect Journalists in The Washington Post, in solidarity with the Kashmir based Journalist Aasif Sultan, has demanded that Aasif sultan be freed from his ‘unjust impertinent’. Washington Post has carried the full-page poster in its 27th August edition.
“Kashmiri Journalist Aasif Sultan has been jailed unjustly for two years under an oppressive anti-terror law for his reporting,” the poster mentions.
Bearing hashtags like #FreeAasifSultan #FressThePress, and urging “the Indian government to free Aasif now”, the adposterfurther read: “Denied due process, Months of court delays, Increased risk of Covid-19, All for the crime of journalism.”
Today marks two years that Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan has been unjustly jailed.@pressfreedom published an ad in today’s @washingtonpost calling on India to #FreeAasifSultan #JournalismIsNotACrime #FreeThePress
cc: @wppressfreedom pic.twitter.com/1TCvaLzxyH
— CPJ Asia (@CPJAsia) August 27, 2020
The advertisement published by Press Freedom Partnership demanded Aasif’s release and comes after Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) penned a letter to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi along with 397 signatories urging his immediate release.
The Press Freedom Partnership describes itself as “a public service initiative from The Washington Post to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists worldwide who are in pursuit of truth.”
The letter comes in the wake of the recent deaths of journalists who contracted COVID in government custody around the world, and the spread of COVID among inmates in jails in Jammu and Kashmir, and carried the threat to ‘Sultan’s well-being is significant’.
Sultan, who covers politics and human rights for the Srinagar-based print magazine Kashmir Narrator, has been detained since August 27, 2018, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), for his alleged complicity in “harboring known militants.”
Sultan, who was bestowed with the annual John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award in 2019 by the National Press Club of America, who said that it was being given “to a journalist in Kashmir jailed for nearly a year for his reporting” who has “doggedly produced important accountability journalism despite harassment from powerful people,” – has been on a slow-paced trial ever since.
He has repeatedly been denied bail, reportedly interrogated by the police about his writing and sources, and has had his Batmaloo house raided.
Citing that events in Kashmir are of ‘public interest’, and covering them is a ‘public service and not a criminal act’ – the letter mentioned: “interviewing alleged militants or having sources that are critical of the government is within the scope of a journalist’s job and does not implicate them in any crime.”
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