Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bangladesh: Newspaper editor freed after three months, immediately re-arrested

Source: IFEXLink
(RSF/IFEX) – 4 November 2011 - Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Mohammad Ekramul Haque, the owner and editor of the news website and the weekly Sheersha Kagoj, was re-arrested on 1 November immediately after being released on bail by order of the Dacca high court.

"We are outraged by Haque's new arrest on the very day of his release after three months in prison on trumped-up charges," Reporters Without Borders said. "How could the judicial authorities allow a journalist to be held for 90 days on the basis of clearly fabricated accusations and then allow him to be re-arrested on the basis of a similar complaint filed on the day he was freed?

"The high court should show some perceptiveness and not participate in this clearly orchestrated judicial harassment of Haque. We caution the judicial authorities against any attempt to prolong his detention indefinitely."

Haque was arrested at his Dhaka home on 31 July on a charge of extortion that was entirely fabricated, as both the identity and address of the plaintiff turned out to be false. While in detention, two other extortion complaints were brought against him, which were nothing more than further attempts to silence him, local journalists say.

The Dhaka high court's 25 October order for Haque to be released on bail was carried out on 1 November. However, he was immediately re-arrested on the basis of a new complaint against him filed earlier that day at the Ramna police station. Taken into custody for an initial period of at least two days, he is reportedly being held at the Dhaka metropolitan police "Detective Branch", which has been implicated in cases of torture and intimidation.

The new complaint was filed by tax inspector Habibur Rahman, who has accused Haque of going to his office on 12 June and demanding monthly payments of 100,000 taka (955 euros) in return for not publishing articles accusing him of corruption. In his complaint, Rahman said that, because he was scared, he paid him 5,000 taka (46 euros) on the spot.

Neither news nor Sheersha Kagoj is currently operational. Local journalists report that the authorities ordered them closed down.