Political Cartoonist Charged with Treason in India

By Betsy Gomez

Aseem Trivedi, a freelance political cartoonist in India, faces imprisonment and fines over charges of treason and insulting Indian national emblems. His cartoons criticized India’s government, and he may face additional charges because another complaint alleges that his work is “defamatory and derogatory.” The latter complaint has led to the suspension of Trivedi’s website, www.cartoonistsagainstcorruption.com.

The censorship comes as no surprise, even from the world’s largest democracy. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide:

Banning cartoons and harassing cartoonists, though rare, is not unheard of in India. In 1987, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the editor of a weekly magazine was arrested and sentenced to three months of rigorous imprisonment for publishing a cartoon mocking politicians, according to a 2003 account in Frontline magazine. The ensuing furor from the media community saw him released within a few days.

For more on this story, visit the Wall Street Journal’s India Realtime blog here and CPJ’s blog here.

Few countries protect Free Speech as adamantly as the United States does, and censorship has a chilling effect worldwide. Please help support CBLDF’s important defense of Free Speech and reporting on issues like this by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!