On Fact-Checker Mohammed Zubair's Arrest, India Responds To Germany

Mohammed Zubair, cofounder of fact-check website Alt News, was arrested in Delhi on June 27 over a 2018 tweet. Days before that, he had flagged suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's controversial comments on Prophet Muhammad on a TV show.

The German foreign ministry had used sharp words on the detention of Mohammed Zubair.

New Delhi:

Reacting sharply to the German foreign ministry's comments on fact-checker Mohammed Zubair's arrest, the government on Thursday called it "an internal issue" and said it was needless to comment on a case that is before the court.

"This is our internal matter. The matter is before the court. Our legal system is independent. Any comment on it is unhelpful. It's not right," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

The German foreign ministry had used sharp words on the detention of Mohammed Zubair.

"Free reporting is beneficial to any society and restrictions 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," a German foreign ministry spokesperson had said.

He said the European Union had an ongoing human rights dialogue with India and "the freedom of expression and freedom of the press" are a focus of those discussions.

"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," asserted the German spokesperson.

Mohammed Zubair, cofounder of fact-check website Alt News, was arrested in Delhi on June 27 over a 2018 tweet. Days before that, he had flagged suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's controversial comments on Prophet Muhammad on a TV show.

On July 2, the police added an extra charge against Mr Zubair under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and he was kept in custody for 14 more days. On July 4, another case was filed in Uttar Pradesh against him for calling three hate-accused Hindu hardliners "hatemongers". 

He was sent to 14 more days in custody on Thursday.

Mr Zubair has approached the Supreme Court for bail citing death threats.

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