Zee News defends its editors, calls arrest attack on media freedom
Sudhir Choudhary and Sameer Ahluwalia were arrested after industrialist and Congress MP Naveen Jindal accused them of extortion
Media group Zee News Limited has reacted sharply to the arrests of its journalists Sudhir Choudhary and Sameer Ahluwalia, editorial heads of Zee news and Zee business channels respectively. The group has voiced its support to the two editors calling their arrest an “attack on freedom of speech”.
The two editors were arrested late on Tuesday 27 November, on a complaint by Congress MP Naveen Jindal who accused the two of trying to extort Rs 100 crore in return for dropping stories allegedly linking his company with the Coal Scam.
Following the arrests, Zee News represented by its lawyer RK Handoo, CEO Alok Agarwal and acting editor Rakesh Khar addressed a press conference on Wednesday 28 November. The media house has called the arrests an attempt to “gag” the media. “Zee News Limited journalists arrested as punishment for sustained coverage on Coalgate,” tweeted the news portal even as the press conference was underway.
The group has questioned whether Delhi Police acted in haste or under pressure to arrest the editors. “Was arrest essential or was the arrest designed?” asked lawyer Handoo. The group has labeled the arrest as an attempt to “censor” the media and “divert” attention from the coal scam.
“How can it be a case of extortion when no money has been exchanged?” questioned Handoo who also allege that the evidence tape produced by Jindal had been tampered with. “Conversation of six hours but only 15 mins were shown by Jindal,” said Handoo. “We condemn the arrest of our editors. Why does Jindal have problem with coalgate stories?” Zee news tweeted its CEO Alok Agrawal’s query. The group has alleged that Jindal was using state machinery to muzzle voices of dissent and to interfere with the legitimate rights of the media.