Asif Mohiuddin, a militant atheist blogger who has been hounded by Bangladeshi Islamists and officials, was arrested today by the Detective Branch of the Dhaka police and is currently being interrogated about his recent posts. The police say he could be taken before a judge tomorrow.
“We call for Mohiuddin’s immediate and unconditional release,” Reporters Without Borders said. “After being the victim of knife attack in January, he is in very poor health and needs constant medical attention. The Detective Branch told us he is being ‘treated well’ but the opposite is happening – he continues to be held in deplorable conditions of hygiene and lack of access to medical treatment.
“The persecution of atheist bloggers is the result of a political desire to restrict freedom of expression and reinforce censorship in the name of combatting blasphemy. The home ministry’s announcement that seven other bloggers are to be arrested is meant to discourage news providers. This is unacceptable and contrary to all the fundamental freedoms we defend.”
Reached by telephone, the Detective Branch told Reporters Without Borders that Mohiuddin would remain in detention until taken before a judge, possible at noon tomorrow. For the time being, he has no lawyer.
Mohiuddin was arrested for posting “anti-religious” comments on his blog (http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/realAsifM), which the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked on 31 March.
His arrest follows the creation of a committee on 13 March that is tasked with identifying “blasphemous” bloggers and bringing them to justice. The committee is under the control of the prime minister’s office.
Police investigators already questioned Mohiuddin about his blog on 23 March. Today’s arrest comes a day after three other bloggers – Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, Mashiur Rahman Biplob and Rasel Parvez ¬– were arrested on similar grounds.