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IPI calls for immediate release of editor imprisoned since March 2007

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a 23 September 2008 IPI press release:

Vienna, 23 September 2008

IPI Calls for Immediate Release of Bangladeshi Editor

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, supports the demand put forward on 19 September by the editors of 14 national daily newspapers in Bangladesh, who urged the country's caretaker administration to immediately release Mohammad Atiqullah Khan Masud, editor of the national daily Janakantha.

"It is disturbing that Bangladesh's interim government, appointed to pave the way for the country's elections, is abusing its powers in order to limit criticism by the media," said IPI Director David Dadge. "Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of the caretaker administration, must acknowledge that the media's ability to report, as well as criticize, the activities of the government is a fundamental element in the coverage of the run-up to the elections."

Atiqullah Khan was among many journalists who, in January 2007, urged the newly-appointed interim government to take a clear stand in favour of press freedom and against censorship. He was arrested without warrant on 7 March 2007 under Section 16 of Bangladesh's Emergency Powers Rules 2007. Two days after his arrest, Atiqullah Khan was accused of "corruption", "criminal activities" and "carrying out propaganda against the caretaker government", according to news reports.

Following his arrest, Atiqullah Khan was denied bail and has since then been held in Dhaka Central Prison. Within a month of his imprisonment, two further cases were filed against Atiqullah Khan.

According to the statement issued on 19 September by the editors of the 14 national dailies, Atiqullah Khan is suffering from neurological problems, heart disease, intestinal disorder, kidney trouble and eye problems as a consequence of the poor prison conditions. He is now under treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital. Atiqullah Khan's continued imprisonment also threatens to further destabilize his newspaper's already precarious financial situation.

IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

Updates the Atiqullah Khan case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/81751

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