India rejects Germany’s criticism of press freedom | News | DW

India on Thursday rejected comments by the German Foreign Ministry on press freedom in India and the arrest of fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, according to various media.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) claimed that this was an internal matter and there was no need to comment on it as it was a matter dealt with by the judiciary.

“This is a national matter. Let me point out that there is an ongoing legal process in this matter and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me, or anyone else, to comment on a case that is pending,” Arindam said. Bagchi, spokesperson for the MEA. “I believe the independence of our judiciary is well recognized and misinformed commentary is unnecessary and should be avoided.”

Germany is worried

Germany on Wednesday expressed concern over the detention of Muslim journalist Mohammed Zubair. He stressed the importance of freedom of the press and underlined how it “applies to India as well”.

“Free reporting is good for any society and the restrictions are cause for concern,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christian Wagner told a news conference.

“Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write,” Wagner said, adding that the German Embassy in India “is watching this very closely.”

He added that Germany would work with its EU partners on the ground, integrating the issue into their ongoing dialogue with India.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are central to these discussions with India,” Wagner said.

Fact checker arrested

Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking site Alt News, was arrested on June 27 following a Twitter user’s complaint about a satirical tweet posted in 2018. The Twitter user accused him to make fun of a Hindu god.

His arrest was condemned by his supporters as a politically motivated attempt to silence a government critic and harass him for his journalism.

Zubair, a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, has been at the forefront of exposing misinformation and hate speech in India and highlighting the concerns of the country’s Muslim minority.

The arrest came just days after he brought international attention to controversial remarks by a ruling party official against the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Zubair was remanded in custody for six days by a court in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday for calling some religious leaders “hate avengers” in a tweet, according to media reports.

Edited by: Sean Sinico

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