Indian court grants bail to Muslim journalist but detention to continue

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India’s top court granted bail on Friday to a Muslim journalist accused of insulting Hindu religious leaders on Twitter, after his arrest last month raised concerns over media freedom.

But Mohammed Zubair, who co-founded fact-checking website Alt News and regularly tweets on the increasing marginalization of India’s Muslim minority, will remain in police custody due to another complaint filed in the capital New Delhi.

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A complaint filed in June in the Sitapur district of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh alleged that Zubair had hurt religious sentiments by describing a group of Hindu religious leaders as “hate mongers,” according to a court document.

Ruling on the Sitapur complaint, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court granted Zubair five days bail, and also ordered him to refrain from tweeting and tampering with any electronic evidence.

Zubair was initially arrested based on a complaint from a Twitter account that said he insulted Hindus in a 2018 post commenting on the renaming of a hotel after the Hindu god Hanuman.

Human rights group say that Indian authorities are increasingly picking on journalists and online critics, a charge that government officials deny.

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