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Indian Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi Released on Bail, Vows to Continue Fight for Free Speech

09/13/2012

Photograph courtesy of Aseem Trivedi

Yesterday, Indian editorial cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was released on bail on a bond of 5,000 rupees ($90).  This year’s co-winner of Cartoonists Rights Network’s Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award (along with Syrian cartoonist Ali Fezat), Aseem was greeted by the media and hundreds of supporters upon his release.  Aseem was arrested on September 12th because a private citizen made a complaint about his anti-corruption cartoons.  Aseem surrendered himself to the police after they brought his father in for questioning.  Aseem has been charged with sedition under Section 124 of the Penal Code, Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults of National Honour Act, and, 66A of the Information Technology Act.  In India the charge of sedition is punishable with up to life imprisonment.  He stated to the media, “Although I am free, the battle will continue.”      

Aseem had initially refused to accept a bail offer.  He accepted the offer only after he had received an assurance that the sedition charge would be dropped.  A hearing has been set for September 17th to decide whether or not the sedition charge is in fact appropriate in Aseem’s case.  Sedition in India is not usually a bailable offense.   

Aseem and his supporters have called for repeal of the British colonial-era sedition law.  CRNI agrees with Aseem that such a serious offense should be repealed, or at least amended, if it is going to used primarily to silence dissent.  Only individuals intentionally inciting rebellion should be subjected to the charge of sedition.  

You can learn more about Aseem Trivedi from our three previous news alerts titled In India the Enemies of Free Speech Find a "Symbolic" Means to Attack Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, CRNI Announces Winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award - Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi, and, Arrrest Imminent for Indian Cartoonist and Blogger Aseem Trivedi.