Eminent journalist, publisher and civil society activist Kanak Mani Dixit was arrested on Friday by Nepal’s anti-corruption body on charges of accumulating wealth disproportionate to his income.
The 60-year-old was picked up from his residence in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, by 20 policemen on the directions of the Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
Dixit maintained his innocence, and told journalists he was being targeted for his opposition to the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki as chairman of the anti-corruption body.
“The property details submitted by the suspect did not match with the bank statements and property details of the suspect obtained by the commission,” said a statement issued by the CIAA.
Dixit, who is chairman of the public transport cooperative Sajha Yatayat, allegedly misused his position to amass wealth for himself and his family, it added.
He was also accused of opening several accounts in national and foreign banks, selling the property of Sajha Yatayat as his personal property, investing money in other institutions and purchasing property in the US.
“We have arrested Kanak Mani Dixit, the chairman of Sajha Yatayat, not the journalist, to investigate corruption charges against him,” CIAA spokesperson Krishna Hari Pushkar told reporters.
The CIAA filed corruption case against the publisher of Himal Southasian magazine and Nepali Times newspaper last year.
Dixit had filed a petition in the Supreme Court that said that since Sajha Yatayat was a cooperative and not a public company, its operations do not fall under CIAA’s jurisdiction.
The CIAA said Dixit had failed to cooperate with investigations and to appear before the body for hearings.
Several senior editors of India have called for the immediate release of Dixit and said the corruption charges against him are “part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in government”.
In a statement released on Friday night, they described Dixit “as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist”.