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CJFE protests charges against journalist as new hearing date set

(CJFE/IFEX) - The following is a 25 May 2007 CJFE letter to the Acting High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Canada:

Syed Masud Mahmood Khundoker, Acting High Commissioner
High Commission for Bangladesh
275 Bank Street, Suite 302
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2L6

May 25, 2007

Excellency,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world, to protest the charges faced by Mr. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Mr. Choudhury currently faces charges of sedition, treason, blasphemy, and espionage, with death penalty consequences. These charges were laid after Mr. Choudhury wrote about inter-faith relations in his newspaper, The Weekly Blitz, and he attempted to attend a writers' conference in Israel. The next hearing of his case is scheduled to take place on June 28, 2007.

Over the past few years, Mr. Choudhury has endured harsh reprisals for his journalistic work. His opponents have repeatedly and severely beaten him and ransacked and bombed his office. Following an attempt to attend a writers' conference in Israel in November 2003, he was arrested, blindfolded, beaten, and questioned. He was then placed in solitary confinement for 17 months, where he was denied medical attention for his glaucoma.

CJFE celebrates the good news that on May 23, a Dhaka court dropped sedition charges against seven journalists, as a step in the right direction for free expression in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, Mr. Choudhury still faces false sedition, treason and blasphemy charges.

CJFE opposes the charges that Mr. Choudhury continues to face, which punish him for expressing himself freely and also contribute to a chill on press freedom in Bangladesh. CJFE calls on the Bangladeshi government to fulfil its commitment to protecting press freedom and to ensure that justice is done. CJFE hopes to see the charges against Mr. Choudhury dropped and that he is able to work in freedom and safety in the future.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

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