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Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist

February 25, 2013

Bail Granted for Indian Journalist, but Worries Persist Over Political Pressures

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the grant of bail to senior journalist K.K. Shahina, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka after a hearing in a district court on 22 February.

Shahina, who currently works for Open magazine in the state of Kerala, south of Karnataka, faces charges of criminal intimidation of witnesses following a story she wrote for the weekly magazine Tehelka. The story which appeared in December 2010 cast doubt on the charges of terrorism brought against a prominent Islamic cleric from Kerala state.

Facing the possibility of arrest since January 2011, Shahina was granted anticipatory bail by the Karnataka High Court in July 2011. Following summons issued after charges were formally laid against her in January this year, Shahina appeared before a court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district of Karnataka, to renew her bail.

IFJ sources indicate that the courtroom where the bail hearing was scheduled was besieged by activists of the right-wing political group, the Bajrang Dal, on 22 February, just as Shahina made her appearance.

Shahina and friends, who accompanied her to the hearing, were reportedly threatened by the Bajrang Dal activists who also insisted that a cameraperson show them the visuals he had recorded, to ensure that they could not be identified in public.

The IFJ joins partners in India in urging the authorities in Karnataka state to ensure that conditions for a fair trial are maintained.

“We see this prosecution as an effort to silence fair and independent reporting through legal injunction and harassment”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

“If the victimisation of a journalist is further compounded by an atmosphere of fear and intimidation created in the environs of the courtroom hearing her case, then we fear the likely chilling effect this could have on free and fair reporting”.

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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