Indian journalist Siddique Kappan released after two years in jail over terrorism charges

Kappan criticises 'half-baked justice' after facing accusations of sedition and fomenting violence

Journalist Siddique Kappan, centre, leaves jail in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, after the Supreme Court granted him bail. AFP
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An Indian journalist has been released from jail more than two years after he was arrested over terrorism charges while on his way to report on the alleged gang rape and murder of a teenager.

Siddique Kappan, 43, from India's southern Kerala state, was arrested in 2020 by police in Uttar Pradesh, where the 19-year-old Dalit woman was attacked.

He faced charges of being involved in a radical Islamist group, money laundering, sedition and fomenting sectarian violence.

He was granted bail by the Supreme Court in December but remained in prison while official procedures were carried out. He was in jail for a total of about 850 days.

On Thursday morning, images of Kappan walking out of prison went viral on social media.

“I am feeling good but this is just delayed, this is a half-baked justice. My crime is that I am a journalist. Journalism is activism and not a crime,” he told NDTV.

Kappan was accused of having links to the Popular Front of India, a banned organisation, and being part of a conspiracy to instigate violence following the rape.

He was detained under the contentious sedition law and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which gives sweeping powers to police to hold a person indefinitely without issuing formal charges.

Kappan was accused of taking money from the PFI to instigate the violence.

India’s federal anti-terrorism agency has accused the organisation of crimes including funding terrorism.

Outrage over arrest

Kappan’s arrest drew widespread criticism from journalists and civil rights groups, who described it as an attack on press freedom.

He was given a five-day bail in February 2021 to visit his ill mother.

Several of his bail pleas were rejected by lower courts until the case was moved to the Supreme Court.

But he remained in jail until Wednesday, when a court in Lucknow signed his release order.

Six journalists are detained in India under the UAPA. Four are from the restive Kashmir region, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

One of the Kashmiri journalists, Aasif Sultan, has been in jail for more than four years.

Updated: February 02, 2023, 10:05 AM