Nepal | July 16, 2020

Former secretary arrested for cyber offence

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, April 23

Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested a former secretary of the Government of Nepal for allegedly committing a slew of cybercrimes.

A source at the bureau said that former secretary Bhim Upadhyay was taken into custody from his residence in Kusunti, Lalitpur, last night. According to the bureau, there were several complaints lodged against Upadhyay alleging character assassination and defamation via social media.

Upadhyay has been accused of using abusive and insulting language against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Health Secretary Yadav Prasad Koirala, among other high profile government officials, by misusing social media.

According to Electronic Transaction Act-2008, any person involved in publishing illegal materials electronically by misusing social media may be subject to a fine of up to Rs 200,000 or five-year prison sentence or both depending on gravity of the offence.

The government had arrested around 100 journalists for their work under the act in 2019 which the Federation of Nepali Journalists said was against the right to freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Nepal Tarun Dal, youth wing of Nepali Congress, has condemned Upadhyay’s arrest and demanded his unconditional release.

Issuing a press release, NTD said, “The government is making a mockery of democracy on Democracy Day. His arrest is against the right to freedom of expression and democratic norms. We demand his immediate release,” read the press release. It also warned of stern protest against undemocratic move of the government.

Recently, Nepal Police had arrested five persons, including two journalists, for allegedly spreading rumours and misinformation on COVID-19 and defaming government officials via online news portals and social media.

Nepal has dropped six places on the global Press Freedom Index to be ranked 112th out of 180 countries for 2020.

According to the report published on April 21, KP Sharma Oli sang the praises of press freedom and pluralism when he was in opposition, but since becoming prime minister in February 2018, he tried to gag journalists by getting Parliament to pass extremely draconian legislation. With the threat of prosecution and continuing violence in the field, the environment for journalists working for independent media outlets has been extremely difficult.

Meanwhile, Kathmandu District Court today remanded former secretary Upadhyay to threeday police custody for further investigation into the case.


A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 24, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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