Pokhara: The Kaski district court has given a verdict in the defamation case filed against the mediaperson and media houses by American citizen Michelle Alexandra Welch, who has been collecting donations through a company called ‘Learning House in Pokhara’.
The single bench of Kaski District Judge, Prakash Kharel has ruled that the claim is not valid as there is no violation of personal privacy and defamation as claimed by the owner of the company.
She had filed a case in the district court Kaski, accusing the chief editor of Setopati online, Amit Dhakal, its Pokhara correspondent Yubaraj Shrestha, journalists Suman Dhungana (the then staff of Avenues news tv), Arjun Giri (editor of Tandav news) and others with the allegations of violation of personal privacy and defamations. She had filed the case on 3 September 2020. The district court gave its verdict today after 2 and a half years after the case was filed.
The learning house operated by Michelle aims to train baristas and teach English language while registering at the company registrar’s office. Contrary to the said action, the company collected donations from Nepal and abroad in the name of various programs and support in Pokhara. Setopati published a news saying that she did not get permission from any government agency of Nepal to collect donations and acted against the laws of Nepal.
In 2021, the Immigration Department had decided not to extend her visa as foreign nationals cannot do any other work except for the purpose for which they are staying in Nepal. Ishwarraj Paudel, the then Director General of the Immigration Department, told Setopati that he had decided not to extend the deadline as she was doing illegal work.
As her visa was about to expire, the government had given free visas to all foreign nationals after the lockdown was implemented. After the lockdown ended, she filed a defamation case in the court.
In the case, she demanded compensation of 10 million along with jail sentence to journalists who wrote the news about the illegal work she was doing.