Terming it an internal issue, India said it is not appropriate to comment on matter that is sub-judice

India has reacted sharply to the German Foreign Ministry’s comments on Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair’s arrest, stating this is a “domestic issue” which is before the court and, as such it will be not appropriate for anyone to comment on it.

“This is a domestic issue. Let me emphasize that there is a judicial process undergoing in this case. I don’t think it will be appropriate for me or anyone else to comment on a case that is sub-judice,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly media briefing on Thursday.

He added: “Independence of our judiciary is well recognised and uninformed comments are unhelpful and should be avoided.”

The German Foreign Ministry had used sharp words on the arrest of Mohammed Zubair who, according to the Delhi Police had tweeted “a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion.” The Alt News co-founder is also under investigation for his alleged attempt to tamper with evidence and FCRA violations. He is also under probe by UP Police for calling Hindu seers “hate mongers.”

“Free reporting is beneficial to any society and restrictions are a cause for concern. Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write. We are indeed aware of this specific case and our embassy in New Delhi is monitoring it very closely,” a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

He said the European Union had an ongoing human rights dialogue with India and “the freedom of expression and freedom of the press” are a focus of those discussions.

“India describes itself as the world's largest democracy. So, one can expect democratic values like freedom of expression and freedom of the press to be given the necessary space there,” said the German spokesperson.

Mohammed Zubair, cofounder of Alt News, was arrested in Delhi on June 27 over a controversial 2018 tweet. On July 2, the police slapped an extra charge against him under the FERA. On July 4, another case was filed against him in Uttar Pradesh for calling three Hindu seers as “hatemongers.”