Charged for spreading rumour, acting editor of banglamail24.com, two others land in jail

A Dhaka court has ordered into jail the acting editor of online news portal banglamail24.com and two other staff after turning down police’s request to question them in custody.

Court Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 9 August 2016, 02:35 PM
Updated : 9 August 2016, 09:38 PM

They have been arrested in a case filed under the ICT Act for allegedly spreading rumours.

Metropolitan Magistrate Golam Nabi gave the order on Tuesday.

Paltan police Sub-Inspector Mizanur Rahman had presented banglamail’s Acting Editor Shahadat Ulla Khan, Executive Editor Maksudul Alam and Staff Reporter Pranta Palash before the court and sought seven-day remand for them.

Defence lawyers Mubinul Islam and Priyalal Saha protested against police’s plea and appealed for his clients’ bail.

On Sunday, the online portal ran a story on a report published by another portal named ‘Todaynews71’, which said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy had died in a plane crash.

The banglamail report had dubbed the ‘Todaynews71’ story a rumour.

The RAB raided the Kakrail offices of banglamail around 11pm and picked up Khan, Alam and Palash.

The elite police unit on Monday night also started the case under the ICT Act against the three and the Dhaka-based online newspaper’s founding chairman Md Fazlul Azim accusing them of spreading rumours.

Former independent MP Azim, whose Azim Group owns banglamail, has been described as a fugitive.

A former BNP leader, Azim is also a former vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

During Tuesday’s hearing, lawyer Mubinul said RAB had misunderstood the news banglamail had run. “This report was published in national interest.”

“A so-called news portal ran a false story. banglamail’s report warned the people and asked them to not pay heed to this rumour. My clients did not intend to offend the government, the prime minister or her son Sajeeb Wazed Joy.”

After the hearing, Islam told bdnews24.com: “Such cases (lodged under the ICT Act) can only be heard at Cyber Tribunal. That’s why the judge only heard the remand plea and did not hear our bail plea.”

Meanwhile, a government handout on Monday said the accreditation cards of nine journalists of the newspaper had been cancelled but assigned no reason for the action.

The banglamail24.com website was also inaccessible on Monday night.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher