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Editor arrested, faces extortion accusation

(Media Watch/IFEX) - The editor of http://Sheershanews.com , a Dhaka-based online newspaper, was placed on a two-day remand on 31 July 2011, hours after police arrested him on an accusation of attempting to extort money from a trader. Mohammad Ekramul Haq, also editor of the weekly "Sheersha Kagoj", was arrested at his Baro Moghbazar residence in the capital at about 4:15 a.m., said Enamul Haque, the officer-in-charge at the Kalabagan Police Station. Law enforcement officers brought Ekramul before the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate's Court and asked for a three-day remand.

The police told the court that the editor sent his men to the Balaka National Company, a travel agency at Haque Mansion in Panthapath, on 25 and 26 July. They alleged that Ekramul's men threatened to run derogatory reports about the company's owner, Gias Uddin Talukder, in the online newspaper unless they were given Tk 2 million (approx. US$26,700).

However, in a press release Sheershanews.com said there is no travel agency by the name of Balaka National Company at Haque Mansion and it was unable to ascertain the existence of the company's main office at Firingibazar in Chittagong. The online media outlet's representatives claimed that Ekramul is being victimised for his reporting, which has included stories on corruption linked to the Gulistan-Jatrabari Flyover and the communications and public works ministries.

Uddin filed a case against Ekramul with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court on 28 July, accusing the editor of attempting to extort money from him.
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