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Avoid uninformed comments: India to Germany over remarks on Zubair's arrest

There is a judicial process under way in this case, says MEA

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi | Twitter / ANI MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi | Twitter / ANI

India on Thursday trashed Germany's criticism over fact-checker Mohammed Zubair's arrest, saying the independence of the country's judiciary is well recognised and that "uninformed" comments are "unhelpful" and should be avoided.

The comments by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came a day after a German foreign ministry official said journalists should not be "persecuted and imprisoned" for what they say and write while referring to police action against Zubair.

"In itself it's a domestic issue. Let me emphasise that 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," Bagchi said.

"I think the independence of our judiciary is well recognised and uninformed comments are unhelpful and should be avoided," he added.

Bagchi was asked at a media briefing about the remarks by the German foreign ministry spokesperson.

The German official said 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 German foreign ministry spokesperson said.

He said the European Union has a human rights dialogue with India and the freedom of expression and freedom of the press are a focus of those discussions.

"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," the German spokesperson said.

Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, was arrested late last month over an "objectionable tweet" he posted in 2018.

The video of the German foreign ministry spokesperson's comments was shared on Twitter by Richard Walker, chief international editor at Deutsche Welle.

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