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Bangladesh 17 February 2003

High Court orders government to stop harassing Saleem Samad and two other journalists


The High Court ordered the government on 9 February to stop harrassing journalists Saleem Samad, Muntasir Mamoon and Shahriar Kabir, who have been under police surveillance. The three had appealed to the court under sections 498 and 561a of the criminal code. The two judges who heard the case ruled they could not be arrested unless there were warrants to do so and said they were free to go anywhere they wanted, inside or outside the country. The passports of Samad and Kabir had been confiscated while they were under arrest


Journalists Shahriar Kabir and Mantasir Mamun, who were also held several weeks by police for alleged involvement in "anti-state activities," have told the local press they have been under police surveillance since they were released.

02.03.2003 Journalist Saleem Samad under police surveillance

Reporters Without Borders protested today at the continued police surveillance of freelance journalist Saleem Samad, recently freed after 50 days in prison, and called on interior minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury to end the harassment of him and his family at once.

Samad, who is also the Reporters Without Borders correspondent in Bangladesh, said the surveillance was probably because of articles and interviews he had provided to the local and foreign media since his release.

The organisation also called on the authorities to return personal belongings confiscated from him when was arrested on 29 November last year and to drop charges against him and the British Channel 4 TV journalists arrested with him.

Since he was freed on 18 January, Samad said his home in Dhaka’s Pallabi neighbourhood has been watched by police, his phone tapped and his family regularly stopped by intelligence officials. During a book fair he attended on 2 February, he noticed plainclothes police trying to eavesdrop on his conversations.

He told Reporters Without Borders he feared the government was planning to accuse him of being involved in a conspiracy.

Samad has written articles and given interviews to foreign media mentioning how he was tortured in detention and criticising human rights violations in the country. He is also correspondent for the Pakistani paper the Daily Times.

He was only freed conditionally and still faces trial for having worked with the Channel 4 reporters. His case file was sent to the Criminal Investigation Department on 3 December and his passport, ID, bank cards and notebooks have not been returned to him.

The government has also refused to grant entry visas to Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard and to Vincent Brossel, head of the organisation’s Asia-Pacific desk.

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