Meeting BNP leader Aslam not a conspiracy, Safadi tells BBC Bangla

Israeli politician Mendi N Safadi has admitted meeting BNP leader Aslam Chowdhury in India, but claimed that it was during a public event and that they had not discussed ‘any secret issues’, reports the BBC Bangla Service.

Published : 17 May 2016, 05:55 AM
Updated : 17 May 2016, 09:46 AM

Safadi, a member of right-wing Likud party, is a former adviser to Israeli Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara.

He now runs a think-tank, Mandi N Safadi Center for International Diplomacy and Public Relations.

The BBC Bangla report said that its correspondent spoke with Safadi over phone.

“Everyone is aware of the situation in Bangladesh, the state of minorities over there. We have discussed those and that too, at a public event.

“There can’t be anything more ridiculous than claiming that we discussed a military coup in Bangladesh or conspired to topple the government,” the report quoted Safadi as saying.

The Israeli right-wing politician wondered how a plot to overthrow a regime could be hatched in a public event. “On top of that the conspirators even posted their pictures on Facebook. Is that possible?”

The issue of an ‘Israel-sponsored plot to topple the Sheikh Hasina regime’ hit the Bangladeshi media a week ago, after a local daily ran a report on a meeting between Aslam and Safadi in India along with a group photo of the two.

The May 9 report by The Daily Ittefaq, citing Israeli news portal Jerusalem Online (JOL), quoted Safadi saying that he was working “to open the gates of Bangladesh for Israelis”.

“ working in order to topple the Muslim Brotherhood run government within Bangladesh in favour of a new government that supports establishing full diplomatic and economic relations with Israel,” reads the JOL report posted in January this year.

The picture, which Daily Ittefaq ran with its report, was, however, taken in March during a summit styled ‘Del Aviv’ in India.

Group photos of Aslam and Safadi have been also found on Facebook pages of ‘Del Aviv’ and the Safadi-run think tank.

The JOL ran an interview of Safadi on Jun 29 last year, where he said that he was working to ‘restore democracy’ in Bangladesh.

The JOL reports described the Bangladesh regime as ‘Muslim Brotherhood run government’.

Leaders of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League claim Aslam’s party, the BNP in collusion with Israel and its spy agency Mossad, was hatching a ‘conspiracy’ to overthrow the government.

The BNP has dismissed the allegations and said Aslam’s India visit was ‘personal’.

According to Bangladesh media reports, Aslam did not deny his India visit and confirmed the authenticity of the pictures.

The BNP leader said that he was not aware that Safadi was a Likud leader. He too told the media that his visit was personal and it had nothing to do with his party.

On Sunday, police picked up the newly promoted BNP joint secretary general from capital Dhaka and secured a remand from court the following day to grill him over his alleged involvement in the ‘plot’.

The BBC Bangla report said that Safadi had visited India ‘frequently’ in recent times.

It said that Safadi was invited to the event in Agra, where he met Aslam, by the youth affiliate of India’s ruling BJP. The BNP leader was also invited.

“I can’t believe that Aslam Chowdhury has been arrested over meeting me. Has he killed anyone? He only had met an Israeli in India,” the report quoted Safadi as saying.

He told the BBC Bangla that he was aware that some Bangladeshi media have described him as a ‘spy for the Mossad’.

“Give me single example of a spy, who posts Facebook updates on an hourly-basis, speaks at seminars, get interviewed by the media. Still, if anyone thinks I am a spy, then I have nothing to say.”