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Editor granted bail after three months in detention

(IFJ/IFEX) – 31 October 2011 – The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the Bangladesh High Court ruling granting bail to Mohammad Ekramul Haq, editor of the Sheersha News web portal and the associated weekly newspaper Sheersha Kagoj, after close to three months in detention on charges of extortion.

In granting bail on October 25, the court observed that the principal complainant in the case of extortion, a fruit trader from the capital of Dhaka, had furnished an identity and address which proved false.

Haq was arrested at his home in Dhaka on the morning of July 31 on charges of extortion and reportedly was dealt with very roughly and led away blindfolded, two days after the complaint was received. His colleagues contested the substance of the complaint that had been lodged on the grounds that the complainant was operating under a fictitious identity and address.

Initially remanded for two days on orders of the Dhaka city magistrate, Haq's remand was extended by another two days on August 3, after fresh charges of extortion were laid against him by the leader of an association of Bangladesh government employees.

The IFJ and partners in the South Asian Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) in Bangladesh had then observed that the multiple charges brought against Haq suggested a political vendetta.

Bail was granted in all later cases by a lower court.

"The IFJ welcomes this decision and calls on prison authorities to comply without delay with the judicial order to set Haq free," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"We extend our support to Haq and his professional colleagues in their continuing efforts to clear his name through the process of the law."

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