x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cartoonist in 'sedition' row freed on bail

An Indian cartoonist jailed on sedition charges was released from a Mumbai prison on bail yesterday, four days after being arrested in a case that has outraged freedom of expression campaigners.

MUMBAI // An Indian cartoonist jailed on sedition charges was released from a Mumbai prison on bail yesterday, four days after being arrested in a case that has outraged freedom of expression campaigners.

"Although I'm free, the battle will continue. Whenever there is an infringement of legal rights, our fight will continue," Aseem Trivedi told reporters outside Arthur Road jail.

Mr Trivedi, whose sketches often mock the government for corruption, accepted bail after the city's High Court said on Tuesday that he could be released on a bond of 5,000 rupees (Dh330).

His lawyer Vijay Hiremath said that they were hopeful all the charges would be dropped.

The arrest of Mr Trivedi, a freelance cartoonist and anti-corruption campaigner, sparked a backlash against the government, which has been accused of using colonial-era sedition laws to crush dissent.

Human Rights Watch joined the chorus of protest yesterday, calling for the "politically motivated" charges to be dismissed immediately.

"Arresting cartoonists for their stinging satire is a hallmark of a dictatorship, not a democracy," Meenakshi Ganguly, the group's South Asia director, said.

Mr Trivedi was arrested in Mumbai under laws governing sedition, information technology and protecting India's national flag and constitution, after a private complaint from a young lawyer.