Thursday, February 02, 2023
NEW DELHI: Indian journalist Siddique Kappan, who was held in custody for more than two years without a trial, walked free on Thursday after being granted bail in a money laundering case.
Kappan was arrested in October 2020 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where he had travelled to report on a high-profile gang rape case.
He and three others were accused of belonging to a fundamentalist group and eventually charged with conspiracy to incite violence.
Kappan on Thursday said he had been unjustly detained and he had only travelled from his home state of Kerala to work as a reporter.
"I'm innocent, I'm a journalist," he told AFP after his release from jail in the city of Lucknow.
He was bailed in September last year but remained behind bars for months longer because of a separate money laundering case against him.
"I will continue my fight against draconian laws. They kept me in jail even after I got bail," he told broadcaster NDTV.
"These two years were very tough, but I was never afraid."
India has slipped 10 places in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking to 150 out of 180 surveyed countries since the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.
Critical reporters often find themselves behind bars and hounded on social media by supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Nine other journalists are currently in Indian prisons, according to Reporters Without Borders.