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.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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