Saturday, May 25, 2013

UK climber heads home as Nepal probes 'illegal' video call

KATHMANDU, May 25: Even as the government starts investigating the ´illegal´ video call that British climber Daniel Thomas Hughes made from the top of Mount Everest, it has come to light that he already left Nepal on Wednesday.

Officials at Summit Nepal Trekking Pvt Ltd, a local partner of the UK-based Jagged Globe Everest Expedition 2013, said Hughes, along with two colleagues, left for home after arriving in Kathmandu from Base Camp via helicopter, Wednesday. Shortly after landing at the Domestic Terminal at about 4 p.m., they went directly to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to catch their flight home.

The first ever live video from atop Mount Everest, made by the 33-year old climber on Sunday morning, caused controversy as he made the video call via smartphone without prior approval of the government the video call was broadcast live on BBC television. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) subsequently sought written clarifications from Summit Nepal Trekking.

But according to Ram Sharan Maharjan of Summit Nepal Trekking, they submitted clarifications to MoCTCA stating that Hughes had not informed them about wanting to make the video call from the Everest summit. “We have also passed this information on to the UK-based company that sent Hughes on the Everest expedition,” he said. “We would have acquired all necessary permission from the government had we been informed on time about this [video call].”

Hughes made it to the top of Everest as a member of the Jagged Globe Everest Expedition 2013 for raising £1 million for Comic Relief, a major charity based in the UK which strives to create a just world free from poverty. The charity aims at driving positive change through the power of entertainment.

MoIC permission is a must for filming or making any audio-visual material for public broadcast, as per the existing law of Nepal. Anyone filming or broadcasting live from the Everest region without prior permission from the government is subject to action by both MoIC and the Sagarmatha National Park.

Meanwhile, MoCTCA has formed a three-member committee to investigate the ´illegal´ video call from the top of Everest and recommend necessary action under existing law.

While MoIC and Sagarmatha National Park can initiate separate legal action against the ´illegal´ act, Hughes may be banned from entering Nepal for five years and from setting foot on Everest for 10 years.

The committee comprising official from the Ministry of Law, MoCTCA and a person who has scaled Everest will also probe the brawl that occured between Sherpas and climbers in early May.

"We hope the recommendations of the probe committee will help avoid such unpleasant situations in future," said an official at the Tourism Industry Division under MoCTCA.

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