Lawyer: Canadian to leave Nepal after work visa revoked

AP News
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Posted: May 05, 2016 6:48 AM

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Canadian man will leave Nepal on Thursday after a court failed to hear his appeal for the revocation of his work visa over critical social media posts, his lawyer said.

Dipendra Jha said the Supreme Court did not have time to hear the appeal Thursday and their turn would likely only come up on Friday. But the government order issued Tuesday required Robert Penner to leave within two days.

Penner will fly out of Nepal later Thursday but Jha said he would continue the case in court on his behalf.

Penner was present in court all day but refused to speak to the media.

The government made the rare decision to expel a foreigner because a report prepared by authorities suggested his critical posts on Twitter threatened national unity.

The government said his social media posts could disturb social harmony. They criticized the new constitution Nepal adopted last September and the government's handling of violent ethnic protests.

Members of the Madhesi minority have opposed the constitution, saying it gave them a small state that did not cover their population. Protests by the group left more than 50 people dead and blocked the border with India, creating severe shortages of fuel and medicines all over Nepal.

The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and it is rare for foreign citizens to be expelled from Nepal for criticizing the government.