(TibetanReview.net, May14’19) – While there are no suggestions that there has been any violation of any law, the government of Nepal has ordered a probe against three journalists at the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), the country’s national news agency, for disseminating a news item regarding Tibet’s exile spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, reported The Kathmandu Post May 13.
The report said RSS journalists working at the English desk of the news agency – Mohani Risal, Somnath Lamichhanne and Jivan Bhandari – were being probed for translating and disseminating a wire report about the Dalai Lama being discharged from a hospital in New Delhi and his return to Dharamshala on Apr 27 after treatment.
Nepal’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Gokul Baskota, has said the investigation was initiated at his orders. Calling Tibet a sensitive issue for China, Baskota has said disseminating a report regarding the Dalai Lama by the state-run news agency was against Nepal’s commitment to One-China policy.
Under Bhakota’s order, RSS Chairperson Shyam Prasad Adhikari Adhikari has formed a four-member probe committee under Dilliram Bhattarai, a member of the RSS board. The report cited people inside the state news agency familiar with the development as saying the investigation was initiated by Baskota after pressure from Chinese officials in Kathmandu.
The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu was reported to have raised concerns with the government of Nepal after some media outlets ran the RSS report on the Dalai Lama.
One of the journalists being probed has said an official from Xinhua, China’s state news agency, had visited the RSS chairman the day after the news was published on online outlets.
Meanwhile, the journalists facing the probe were reported to have had met with Adhikari, the RSS chairman, and expressed reservations about the working environment and the lack of press freedom.
The three reporters under investigation were stated to have explained that the Dalai Lama was a global newsmaker and that his health condition made important news for people around the world, including in Nepal. They have also explained that they had simply translated the piece and disseminated it through the RSS portal.