Kerala sleaze audio: Channel CEO, four other journalists arrested

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Thiruvananthapuram, April 4 (IANS) Mangalam TV CEO R. Ajithkumar and four other journalists were arrested on Tuesday for airing an audio purportedly of Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran where he was heard having a lewd conversation with a woman on phone, police said.

The woman, who turned out to be a staffer of the channel, and two other journalists were let off.

The arrests came after all the nine accused appeared before the probe team, and a day after the Kerala High Court had fixed for Thursday the hearing on three anticipatory bail pleas filed by them.

The court, however, did not stay their arrest before Thursday.

Mangalam TV officials had approached the high court after a case was registered against them on Friday for airing the audio.

Opposing the bail pleas on behalf of the Kerala government, Director General of Prosecution M. Sreedharan Nair had said the accused had failed to present themselves before the probe team that waited for them for two days.

The audio was aired on March 26, leading to a political furore. Within hours, Saseendran announced his resignation from the Cabinet.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government announced judicial and police probes, leading to Ajithkumar to admit on air on Thursday that it was a sting operation and not a real incident as they claimed earlier and tender an unconditional apology.

The channel said the lady who spoke to Saseendran was one of their staffers and not a housewife, who had come to meet the minister, as claimed by the channel, ever since the news was telecast.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed.