News

November 20, 2018 - Updated on November 22, 2018

Prominent Bangladeshi photographer still in prison, despite release order

Alam is still facing a possible 14-year jail term (photo: Munir Uz Zaman / AFP).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Bangladesh’s supreme court to reject the government’s attempt to block a high court decision granting bail to Shahidul Alam, a well-known photojournalist held since August. His release must go ahead for the sake of the rule of law, RSF said.

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Update

RSF is extremely relieved to learn that Shahidul Alam was released at 9 p.m. today (20 November). RSF deplores that fact that he was detained for 107 days and that he was tortured while held with the clear aim of intimidating him. Prosecutors must now drop all charges against him. 

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After four previous bail requests were rejected, the high court finally granted Shahidul Alam bail on 15 November. But Alam is still in prison and yesterday morning the attorney general’s office filed a petition with the supreme court seeking a stay on the release order. He will complete his 107th day in detention today.

 

“We urge the supreme court’s judges to reject this petition at once so that Shahidul Alam’s release can go ahead,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “By intervening so crudely in judicial matters, the Bangladeshi government is revealing its contempt for press freedom. Its persecution of this journalist is indicative of a desire to silence all criticism a month before a general election. The absurd charges against him must be dropped.”

 

Explaining its reasons for granting Alam bail, the high court noted that he has always denied the allegations and that the statements attributed to him in the police report were not those that can be heard in the Facebook video used by prosecutors as grounds for detaining him.

 

Arrested at his home on the evening of 5 August by around 30 plainclothes officers because of his comments on Facebook about a wave of students protests, Alam is facing a possible 14-year jail term under the notorious section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Act.

 

Bangladesh is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.