Bangladesh po­lice ar­rest lawyer­pub­lisher linked to op­po­si­tion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World - OC­TO­BER 26, 2018

A prom­i­nent lawyer and news­pa­per pub­lisher who is tied to Bangladesh’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion has been ar­rested on defama­tion charges amid con­cern the gov­ern­ment is act­ing tough on dis­sent ahead of na­tional elec­tions, po­lice said Tues­day.

De­tec­tives ar­rested Moinul Ho­sein late Mon­day af­ter raid­ing an op­po­si­tion leader’s home in the cap­i­tal, said Mah­bub Alam, a joint com­mis­sioner of the De­tec­tive Branch of the Dhaka Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice.

Ho­sein is the pub­lisher of the English-lan­guage New Na­tion daily and heads its ed­i­to­rial board.

Alam said the war­rant is­sued by a court in north­ern Bangladesh on Mon­day in­volved a tele­vi­sion talk show ap­pear­ance where Ho­sein called a jour­nal­ist “char­ac­ter­less” af­ter she asked him if he rep­re­sented the Ja­maat-e-is­lami party to a re­cently formed op­po­si­tion al­liance.

De­tails of the charges were not im­me­di­ately clear in­clud­ing whether they were re­lated to a re­cently passed dig­i­tal se­cu­rity law.

The head of the al­liance is an­other prom­i­nent lawyer and head of a smaller party, Ka­mal Hos­sain, who was cho­sen by prom­i­nent op­po­si­tion fig­ures and civil so­ci­ety mem­bers in­clud­ing Ho­sein.

The main party in the al­liance is the Bangladesh Na­tion­al­ist Party headed by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Khaleda Zia, who is now in jail for cor­rup­tion and whose el­der son is the party’s heir-ap­par­ent and would face prison him­self if he re­turned from Lon­don where he lives.

Re­cently a court in Dhaka sen­tenced Tarique Rahman to life in prison for a 2004 grenade at­tack on then-op­po­si­tion leader Sheikh Hasina, now prime min­is­ter, in which 24 peo­ple were killed. Hasina nar­rowly es­caped.

The op­po­si­tion al­liance was formed this month in hopes of de­feat­ing the rul­ing al­liance of Hasina in the next elec­tions, which are ex­pected to be held in De­cem­ber.

Ja­maat-e-is­lami is a close al­lay of Zia’s party, and Hasina’s gov­ern­ment has ex­e­cuted al­most all the party’s top lead­ers for their role in killings, ar­son and rape dur­ing Bangladesh’s in­de­pen­dence war against Pak­istan in 1971.

, who is a critic of Hasina, is ex­pected to be pro­duced be­fore the court Tues­day. He was a for­mer ad­viser to an army-backed care­taker gov­ern­ment in 2006-2008 when both Hasina and Zia were ar­rested be­fore Hasina came out and won the elec­tions in 2008 to form the gov­ern­ment.

Ho­sein’s ar­rest came hours af­ter Hasina crit­i­cized his com­ment against the jour­nal­ist and asked fe­male jour­nal­ists to file defama­tion charges against him.

The gov­ern­ment has re­cently passed a dig­i­tal se­cu­rity law, de­spite wide­spread crit­i­cism by jour­nal­ists and rights groups that it would be used against free­dom of speech and press free­dom.

The gov­ern­ment says it has been en­acted to pro­tect the coun­try from mis­in­for­ma­tion and pro­pa­ganda

– AP

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