Police arrested Ujyalo Network's executive editor Anish Tamang and General Manager DL Tamang (Prabhat) on April 26 for publishing fake news on its news portal about Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Both of them have been charged with a crime against the state and an offence related to forged documents.
A few days ago, Ujyalo Network had published a news report claiming that PM Oli had signed a three-point agreement with Samant Kumar Goyal, chief of India's foreign intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). The online portal had also published a single-page document on its website with the detailed four-point agreement. The document was signed under the name of Oli as prime minister of the country and Goyal as special envoy from India. On October 21 of last year, Goyal had come to Nepal on a special flight and had hour-long discussion with PM Oli.
As the news received much attention from all around, Ujyalo Network published a corrigendum apologising for publishing the news out of negligence. It said, "The news was published due to the negligence and the state of being gullible towards the news source."Soon after the corrigendum was published, police had tried to arrest the editor and publisher. However, police had failed to arrest them.
Later, Binod Kumar Raut of the online news portal had gone to Patan High Court to file a case against Metropolitan Police Range for trying to arrest journalists. The court had then asked the police not to arrest journalists for writing news.MPR Teku, however, had arrested the journalists, defying the high court's order. SP of Police Ramesh Basnet of MPR Teku said their arrest did not contradict the high court's order as the court had also given the verdict that they could arrest them if the case was of a criminal offence.
Crime against the state is a criminal offence. Nepal's press freedom law, however, prevents the police from arresting journalists in relation to their journalistic work. In case of journalistic offences, it should be dealt with by Press Council Nepal.SP Basnet also said the arrest of the Tamang duo will focus more on finding out how they found the fake document or who provided them with those documents. Meanwhile, Kathmandu District Court has remanded them to three days of judicial custody, the time provided for the police to investigate the case.