Bangladesh Must Prove Absence of Malice in Editor's Arrest
August 3, 2011
Bangladesh Authorities Must Prove Absence of Malice in Editor’s Arrest
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned over the arrest of Mohammad Ekramul Haq, editor of the Sheersha News web portal and the associated weekly newspaper Sheersha Kagoj in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 31.
According to reports received from the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Songbadik Forum (BMSF), Haq was arrested from his home in a neighbourhood of the capital during the early hours that day on charges of extortion.
He was reportedly led away blindfolded and his family was allegedly dealt with roughly by the police making the arrest. Haq has since been remanded to police custody.
Haq is alleged to have sent two reporters to the office of a local businessman on July 25 and 26 to threaten him with negative news stories on the Sheersha News website, if a sum of two million taka (just under USD 27,000) was not handed over.
Reports received from Bangladesh indicate that these allegations have been challenged by other journalists, including staff at Sheersha News. They allege the businessman who made the complaint against Haq before a local magistrate does not have his offices in the premises named in his complaint.
Sources also inform the IFJ that the editor’s arrest could be retribution for news reports carried on Sheersha News regarding alleged corruption in public works projects in Dhaka.
“Political rivalries between the ruling party and the principal opposition in Bangladesh have had serious repercussions for the functioning of the press in the country,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“Keeping in view the context and the allegations of political vendetta made in the present case by the leader of the opposition in the Bangladesh Parliament, the authorities bear the onus of establishing that there is an absence of malice in the arrest of Ekramul Haq.”
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