Journalists anywhere in the world should not be jailed for what they write, tweet, or say, a spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday while commenting on the arrest of Alt News co-founder and journalist Mohammed Zubair.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets posted in 2018. On Tuesday, the Delhi Court has remanded Mohammed Zubair, to 4 days of police custody.
Responding to Zubair’s arrest, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric said: “In any place around the world, it is very important that people be allowed to express themselves freely, journalists be allowed to express themselves freely and without the threat of any harassment.”
“Journalists should not be jailed for what they write, what they tweet and what they say. And that goes for anywhere in the world, including in this room,” Dujarric said.
Many including Opposition leaders, journalists and rights activists and thousands of social media users are calling for Alt News co-founder and journalist Mohammed Zubair to be immediately released.
The Muslim journalist has been under attack from Hindu nationalists for calling out hate speech by several Hindu monks and Hindutva politicians including Yati Narsinghanand, Mahant Bajrang Muni, Anand Swaroop, and Nupur Sharma.
Aakar Patel, the chair of board for Amnesty International India, said that authorities are targeting Zubair for his “crucial work” in combatting disinformation and calling out discrimination against minorities.
“The arrest of Mohammed Zubair shows the danger facing human rights defenders in India has reached a crisis point,” he said.
“The arrest of journalist Mohammad Zubair marks another low for press freedom in India, where the government has created a hostile and unsafe environment for members of the press reporting on sectarian issues,” Steven Butler, the South Asia program coordinator for United States-based non-profit organisation Committee to Protect Journalists, said.