Canadian held for second day after social media criticism of Nepal government

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A Canadian computer programmer who has been vocally critical of the government of Nepal on social media has been held for a second day of questioning, a Nepali official said on Tuesday.

Robert Penner was taken to the Department of Immigration for questioning on Monday by police who arrested him at his office in southern Kathmandu, said Lalitpur Senior Superintendent of Police Pitambar Adhikari.

Penner lives in Kathmandu and works for Sound Cloud, an outsourcing company.

He criticized the Nepal government on social media during unrest that followed the passing of Nepal’s constitution last year and he denounced the recent arrest and detention of Kanak Mani Dixit, a prominent journalist and civil rights activist.

“Yesterday we requested the police to bring him to the Department of Immigration for questioning,” Prakash Neupane, director of immigration told Reuters.

“Penner is still under the process of investigation. We are investigating whether he has contravened the terms of his working visa, which state he can be punished if he engages in activities outside the terms of his working visa.”

Lawyer Dipendra Jha, who is representing Penner, said he had been informed that the Canadian would be released on Tuesday, and his visa revoked. Officials at the Department of Immigration declined to confirm this.

The Canadian consulate in Kathmandu could not be reached for comment. The Canadian High Commission in the Indian capital New Delhi declined to comment.

(Reporting by Ross Adkin; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Nick Macfie)