Germany has expressed concern at the arrest of AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair and said Berlin was in contact with its partners in the European Union on his continuing incarceration.
India responded as always, terming the German foreign office’s views as “uninformed” and flagging the independence of the Indian judiciary.
Responding to a question on Zubair’s arrest, the German foreign office spokesperson had said on Wednesday: “We are indeed aware of this specific case and our embassy in New Delhi is monitoring it very closely. We are also in contact on this with our EU partners on the ground. The EU has a human rights dialogue with India, and freedom of expression and freedom of the press are a focus of those discussions with India.
“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.”
Further, according to a video released and translated by DW News, the spokesperson said: “Free reporting is beneficial to any society and restrictions are cause for concern. Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write.”
Asked for a response at the weekly briefing, Indian external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “In itself it’s a domestic issue…. There is a judicial process underway in this case and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me or anyone else to comment on a case that is sub judice…. The independence of our judiciary is well recognised and uninformed comments are unhelpful and should be avoided.”
Zubair’s arrest has been widely reported in the international media, coming as it did after he highlighted the derogatory remarks made on Prophet Mohammed by two BJP spokespersons who were axed after protests and boycott-India campaigns spread through West Asia in early June.
AltNews has denied the charges against Zubair and said these were an attempt to shut it down.