'Our internal matter': India after German foreign ministry comments on arrest of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair

Earlier today, German foreign ministry spokesperson said it was "monitoring very closely" the arrest of fact-checker Zubair

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, July 07, 2022, 08:00 PM IST
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'Our internal matter': India after German foreign ministry comments on arrest of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair | File Photo

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday reacted sharply to the comments of German foreign ministry on Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair Mohammed Zubair's arrest.

"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," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Earlier today, German foreign ministry spokesperson said it was "monitoring very closely" the arrest of fact-checker 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," the spokesperson had said.

“India describes itself as the world’s largest democracy. So one can expect democratic values like freedom of expression and of the press to be given the necessary space there,” he added.

Zubair moves SC for bail, quashing of FIR lodged in UP

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Friday the plea of Zubair for quashing the FIR and bail in connection with a case registered against him in the Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly outraging religious feelings.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari said on Thursday that the matter be listed on Friday subject to clearance from the Chief Justice of India.

"Let the matter be listed on July 8, 2022, before the appropriate Bench subject to assignment," the bench said in its order.

During the hearing, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Zubair, said his anticipatory bail was rejected by the Allahabad High Court and subsequently he was arrested. He said that Zubair is the co-founder of Alt News and his job is to fact-check news and he was doing the role of identifying hate speeches.

"A look at the FIR shows that there is no crime but there is a threat to his life as people out there are threatening him," he said while urging the court to list the matter urgently.

An FIR was lodged against Zubair in Uttar Pradesh under IPC section 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) and section 67 of the IT Act here on a complaint by Hindu Sher Sena Sitapur district president Bhagwan Sharan on June 1.

Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on June 27 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets.

The Delhi Police has invoked new provisions -- sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act -- against Zubair.

(With PTI inputs)

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