Online journalists arrested in Bangladesh for ‘false news’09 Aug, 2016
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) express concerns over the arrest of three online journalists and the cancellation of all press accreditation of journalists for ‘allegedly publishing false news about the Prime Minister’s son’. The IFJ urges Bangladesh to immediately release the journalists and reinstate the press accreditation.
On Monday, August 8, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from the Bangladesh Police arrested editor Shadat Ullah Khan, executive editor Maksudul Haider Chowdhury and newsroom editor Pranto Polash of online news portal banglamail24.com at the offices in Nayapaltan, Dhaka following a story addressing rumours that Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the son of Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, had been killed.
The arrest came after members of the RAB visited the banglamail24.com offices on the evening of August 7, to investigate the published articles. The RAB has filed a case against the journalists under the ICT Act, which has received widespread criticisms.
Following the arrests, the Press Information Department cancelled all temporary and permanent press accreditation cards for nine journalists from banglamail24.com, without providing a reason.
The arrests come just four days after the Bangladesh Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission (BTRC) ordered the shutdown of 35 news websites. The BTRC said they were blocked ‘for making objectionable comments about the government’.
The IFJ said: “These arrests are the latest in a series of government crackdowns in Bangladesh against the press and media freedom. The arrests are an attempt to silence critics and intimidate the media. The Bangladeshi media continue to face a dire situation and actions by the actions are only working to further weaken the media environment. The IFJ demands the immediate release of Khan, Chowdhury and Polash.”