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Critical journalist arrested without warrant, detained on spurious robbery complaint

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Corruption Reporter Arrested Without Warrant in Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed that a Bangladeshi journalist who has reported extensively on alleged police corruption was wrongfully detained by police and accused of robbery.

Rabiul Islam, a journalist for The Daily Sunshine, a Rajshahi-based newspaper in the Bangla language, has written several reports implicating the Durgapur police force in alleged corruption and malpractice.

On March 28, Rabiul was taken into custody and accused of involvement in a robbery. Rabiul was held for 12 hours and released after the complainant in the robbery case and members of Rabiul's family provided statements as to Rabiul's good character.

Rabiul was arrested after four police officers in plain clothes entered his home. Without identifying themselves or presenting a warrant, they reportedly dragged him across the courtyard of his home, assaulted and handcuffed him, and took him to Durgapur police station.

Bulbul Monjurul Ahsan, the Executive Director of Media Watch-Bangladesh, said that when Rabiul's mother and pregnant sister intervened on his behalf, the police pushed them aside.

Throughout his detention, a local journalist who was at the police station for other reasons remained at the station to ensure Rabiul was not mistreated. Several senior journalists also contacted police at the station to ask for information about Rabiul's arrest.

"The arrest and detention of Rabiul Islam on questionable grounds raises serious concerns about the safety of journalists who conduct independent and fearless reporting in Bangladesh," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Reporting on allegations of corruption is an essential element of the work of a responsible media dedicated to public service values. Police intervention that seeks to restrict such reporting is to be condemned."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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