In a scathing attack on some editors for seeking release of detained Amar Desh’s Acting Editor Mahmudur Rahman, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said such appeal was ‘not in the best interest of the media’.
He says the 16 editors issued their statement without knowing the entire facts.
“Mahmudur Rahman has scripted an ignominious chapter in the media history. He has manipulated his role as a journalist for the sake of some individuals and a vested quarter,” Inu said at a press briefing on Monday.
Editors of 15 dailies and a web portal issued a statement on Saturday asking for the release of Rahman, the Acting Editor of a BNP-leaning daily, Amar Desh, saying his arrest and continued detention was a threat to the freedom of press.
They also demanded the Islamic TV and Diganta TV be allowed to go on air and Amar Desh be allowed to restart printing.
Rahman had taken a stance against the Ganajagaran Mancha which has been pressing for maximum penalty for convicted war criminals and a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami.
People reacted to the statement with shock and anger on the social networking sites. Leaders of four organisations including the Sector Commanders Forum protested the statement on Sunday.
Information Minister Inu said the editors’ statement had tarnished the image of the media persons.
“Advocating without knowing the truth is harmful for the media. I hope they will accept our explanations and refrain from advocating for Mahmudur release in future,” he said.
He said actions had been taken against Amar Desh for publishing “tainted information”, falsehood, and publishing reports that hurt religious sentiments.
Mahmudur Rahman had been detained on specific charges, Inu said.
Asked whether the Amar Desh printing press will be reopened before the completion of investigation, the Information Minister said the government would not interfere with the freedom of the press.
“Its declaration has not been cancelled. They can publish their paper if they want,” he said.
Police on Apr 11 detained Mahmudur Rahman on charge of sedition and publishing transcripts of an alleged Skype conversation between an International Crimes Tribunal judge and an expatriate Bangladeshi legal expert.
Later that night, police raided the Amar Desh press in the city’s Tejgaon and sealed it.
On the other hand, airing of Diganta Television, which is said to be close to Jamaat-e-Islami, and pro-BNP Islamic TV were ‘temporarily suspended’ on May 5.