Concerned citizens demand the release of AltNews founder Mohammed Zubairtext_fields
Over 100 Indians have, in an open letter, demanded the immediate release of Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of AltNews.
The concerned citizens wrote that Zubair's job is to verify news from across the political spectrum on social media. They added that he is being targeted "maliciously" for doing his job which included fact-checking and exposing fake news.
This is in line with the Delhi High Court's notice to the Delhi Police seeking a response about the legality and propriety of his four-day police remand and the seizure of his digital devices. A petition was launched in the court for the same.
Writer and human rights activist Aakar Patel, independent journalist Ajit Sahi, Arjun Sheoran of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women's Association, Natasha Bhadwar of Karwan-e-Mohabbat and Dalit women's activist Priyanka are among the signatories.
They noted that Zubair's work was courageous and upheld the highest standards of journalism. "His work burnished India's global image as a democracy in which truth could be told to power."
About the police seizing the journalist's laptop, the signatories opined that it was an illegal act by the police as the electronic devices were irrelevant to the case. "It violated his fundamental right to privacy, journalistic integrity, and confidentiality of sources''.
"We apprehend that the police may tamper with the seized material and build a false conspiracy to implicate him," they added. Signatories said the Judicial Magistrate should have ensured that police officers did not arrest the accused unnecessarily. They raised concerns about Zubair's safety and demanded that the Delhi Police Commissioner should take stern action against errant officials.
They also noted that Zubair's lawyers were not given a copy of the FIR, and it is suspicious that the account from which the complaint came was an anonymous Twitter handle @balajikijaiin by the name of Hanuman Bhakt.