Photographer charged as police crackdown in Bangladesh intensifies

HRF condemns the arrest of photographer Shahidul Alam following his commentary on Al Jazeera.

Police in Bangladesh have charged a prize-winning photographer for “provocative comments” made in an al-Jazeera interview about protests that have convulsed the country for more than a week.

More than 100 people were injured at the weekend during a demonstration over road safety as police fired teargas and rubber bullets and crowds of people attacked protesters, photographers and the US ambassador’s car.

At least 20 plainclothes officers picked up Shahidul Alam, 63, at his home in the capital, Dhaka, at about 10pm on Sunday, hours after his comments were broadcast by the Qatar-based TV station, his colleague Abir Abdullah told Agence France-Presse.

Police charged Alam on Monday under section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information Communications Technology Act, a broad law against electronic communication that “tends to deprave or corrupt” or prejudices the image of the state. He was placed on seven-day remand.

Scores of journalists and citizens have been arrested without warrant, prosecuted and jailed under the law, which human rights groups say is draconian and the government admits has been misused.

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