Demonstration held calling for release of journalist Pandey detained in UAE

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Demonstrations have taken place in Kathmandu demanding the immediate release of Nepali journalist Umakanta Pandey, who was detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Journalists have protested against the arrest of Pandey by the local police on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Nepali embassy on December 8 for writing on the social network Facebook, targeting the embassy about the irregularities in the tourist visa for Nepal.

Former president of the UAE branch of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, Bhupraj Basyal, said that the embassy had played an irresponsible role in the arrest of Pandey just for writing critical remarks about the embassy on social media.

Claiming that they had received evidence showing the role of embassy officials in getting Pandey detained in a foreign land, he also demanded that action be taken against all those involved in it.

General Secretary of UNMI Nepal, an international organization of media persons, Jeevan Bhandari said that it was a matter of fear for all migrants around the world that the Embassy, assigned to assist Nepali nationals in foreign lands, is involved in the arbitrary arrest of own citizens.

A court in the UAE has announced a penalty of around Rs 650,000 Nepali rupees on Pandey along with confiscation of all his assets and deportation.

The protest and demonstration were organized to put pressure on the Embassy in the UAE and the government of Nepal to act for the safe release of Pandey, said a central member of the Youth Congress and coordinator of the protest Kiran Khanal. He said that the sentence was given to a Nepali journalist by the UAE court on the basis of his social media status while living in Nepal was against the universal recognition of freedom of expression and outright violation of freedom of expression.