IFJ Protests Over Intimidation of Journalists’ Family in Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the harassment by intelligence agents of the family of Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samad.

“Any attempt to silence journalists and harass their families is condemnable, and must be resisted by all those who value press freedom,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

According to information received by the IFJ, two intelligence agents visited Samad's family home in Dhaka on 28 January and asked his father Abdus Samad about the whereabouts of his son journalist Saleem Samad and his wife and son.

Saleem Samad, 52, currently Bangladesh correspondent with Time Asia, has been living in exile in Canada since mid-fall 2004 and fears for the security of his wife and son, who remain in Dhaka. This incident occurred days after Bangladesh press published news of granting of Samad’s refugee status in Canada.

Samad was previously arrested in November 2002 and imprisoned for two months for working with a documentary crew preparing a report on Bangladesh for Britain's Channel 4. Samad has reported ill treatment while he was in prison.

Intelligence agents have been assigned to look for anyone who might have provided interviews or information for the 23 January New York Times article on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh, according to a Bangladeshi intelligence source quoted in the Dhaka-based newspaper The Daily Star.

The search has been extended to include journalist Saleem Samad, who did not work on the Times article but who has contributed to foreign news reports in the past, The Daily Star reported. According to Samad, the motive behind the harassment appears to be to intimidate his family for seeking political asylum in Canada.

“Such harassment is an outright violation of journalists’ right to report without fear of intimidation,” said Warren, who called upon the authorities to immediately stop the harassment of Samad’s family.

For further information contact IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries