Nepali editors concerned about prime minister’s IT consultant’s role in removal of news reportIssuing a statement, a group of 21 editors drew attention to the involvement of Asgar Ali, Oli’s IT consultant, in taking down a news report that was critical of him.
Editors of Nepal's dailies and online portals have expressed concern over the prime minister’s IT consultant’s involvement in the removal of a news report from an online portal.
The statement by the editors follows a press statement issued by the portal Kathmandu Press, which accused Shiran Technologies, their website’s developer, of accessing their backend and taking down an article regarding the involvement of numerous people in the procurement of medical supplies from China. The editors noted that Shiran Technologies had reportedly acted on “orders from above” and since Asgar Ali, the prime minister’s IT consultant, is a partner in Shiran’s parent company F1Soft, it has raised suspicions regarding the government’s role in the removal.
The group of 21 editors, in the statement, said that Ali’s involvement in such an objectionable act has put the government in a difficult position.
“We demand an immediate investigation into the matter and action against the perpetrator of this unconstitutional act,” reads the statement.
The editors also drew attention to a press statement issued by the Online Journalists’ Association regarding the government taking down a number of online portals by issuing letters through the Information Ministry and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority in the name of monitoring online news.
“The Press Council recommending the closure of online websites is against the spirit of the constitution and will only invite government interference, instead of making the press accountable,” the statement reads.
Taking such actions against online media, one after the other, will only serve to limit press freedom, the editors said.
Krishna Jwala Devkota
Hari Bahadur Thapa