Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Three journalists arrested in Bangladesh under the accusation of a false report

28 January 2014

Three Bangladeshi journalists were arrested by police earlier this month during a police raid on the Dhaka offices of a paper known for criticizing the ruling party, according to news reports.

Robiullah Robi, news editor of the Daily Inqilab; Rafiq Mohammad, the paper's deputy chief correspondent and Ahmed Atik, its diplomatic correspondent were arrested Jan. 17 under the country’s Information and Communication Technology Act. During the police roundup, printing equipment and computers were also sealed, the reports said.

The journalists were accused of publishing a false story reporting that Indian forces had helped the Bangladeshi army to restrain political violence in Bangladesh's Satkira district before the Jan. 5 parliamentary elections.

The article cited information from various social network sites and a communique between New Delhi and Dhaka, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Bangladesh’s government denied it sought help from Indian forces ahead of the election, saying such claims are "completely false and fabricated", news reports said.

The ruling Awami League claimed victory in the elections, which were marred by a boycott by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The Daily Inqilab’s report is particularly sensitive given that the BNP has criticized the Awami League in the past for being too close to India.

The Dhaka police said the paper's report was harmful to the image of the country and its law enforcement agencies, according to news accounts.

Bangladesh’s press climate is difficult. Journalists are often attacked or threatened by organized crime groups, Islamist militants and security services according to Freedom House, a human rights organization. There were protests last year in Dhaka in which thousands of Islamists called for the death of bloggers whose work was they saw as blasphemous.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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