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Police arrest prominent editor in southern India

October 9, 2018

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Police in southern India on Tuesday arrested the chief editor of a prominent investigative magazine on charges of publishing defamatory content against a top state official.

R.R. Gopal was arrested at the airport in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, as he was about to board a flight to a neighboring state, said a police official at the station where Gopal was detained.

Gopal was arrested after his influential Tamil-language magazine, “Nakkeeran,” published reports linking the state’s governor to a recent university sex scandal, said the police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

There were no further details available.

Dozens of journalists and politicians protested the arrest, calling it an assault on freedom of expression. They gathered outside the police station where Gopal was being held and demanded his immediate release while shouting slogans against the government’s action.

The Chennai Press Club issued a statement condemning the arrest, calling it a misuse of authority and law.

In July, the global watchdog Reporters Without Borders expressed serious concern at “an alarming deterioration in the working environment of journalists in India” and demanded that the government ensure the safety of journalists who feel threatened.

India’s press freedom ranking dropped by two points this year, ranking the country 138th, according to the watchdog.

On July 3, the general secretary of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, wrote to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling him that an incident report had been issued in relation to press freedom in the country, and asking him to take urgent action. An incident report is issued when events are observed that could affect a country’s ranking based on one or more of the indicators that are used in the evaluation for the World Press Freedom Index.

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