Responding to Germany’s criticism over AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair‘s arrest, India on Thursday said that “uninformed” remarks are “unhelpful” and “should be avoided”.
“In itself it’s a domestic issue. Let me emphasise that there is a judicial process underway in this case and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me, or anyone else, to comment on a case that is sub-judice,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. “I think the independence of our judiciary is well recognised and uninformed comments are unhelpful and should be avoided.”
Bagchi’s comments came a day after a German foreign ministry official, while referring to police action against Zubair, said journalists should not be “persecuted and imprisoned” for what they say and write.
The German official had said free reporting benefits a society and restrictions on it are a cause for concern.
“Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write. We are indeed aware of this specific case and our embassy in New Delhi is monitoring it very closely,” the German foreign ministry spokesperson said.
He said the European Union has a human rights dialogue with India and the discussions focus on the freedom of expression and that of the press. “India describes itself as the world’s largest democracy. So one can expect democratic values like freedom of expression and freedom of the press to be given the necessary space there,” the German spokesperson said.
Last week, a cyber unit of Delhi Police arrested Zubair, on charges of allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint by a social media user who referred to a tweet from 2018. The Supreme Court has listed his bail plea for urgent hearing on Friday.
Earlier, a spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres too had said journalists should not be jailed for “what they write, what they tweet and what they say” and it is important that people be allowed to express themselves freely without the threat of any harassment.
With PTI inputs