• Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Arrest of Prothom Alo journalist Samsuzzaman in world media


Apr 18, 2023

International media has given widespread coverage following arrest of Prothom Alo’s staff correspondent in Savar, Samsuzzaman.

Earlier on Thursday, a court in Dhaka sent journalist Samsuzzaman to jail, rejecting his bail plea in a case filed with Ramna police station under the Digital Security Act after police produced him before the court around 10:30 am following a thirty hours of detention.

Journalist Samsuzzaman faces another lawsuit with Tejgaon police under the Digital Security Act and Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman has been made the main accused in the case with Ramana police.

London-based BBC ran a news titled, “’Can’t afford rice’ quote lands journalist in jail”.

BBC said in its report, “A journalist at a leading Bangladeshi newspaper has been jailed on charges of publishing “false” news after his report on high food prices went viral.”

“The report for which Mr Shams was detained featured ordinary Bangladeshis talking about their lives on Independence Day.”

“The comment was seen to reflect growing worries about escalating food prices, which have soared around the world since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” it reads.

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Prothom Alo journalist Samsuzzaman sent to jail
The court has sent Prothom Alo journalist Samsuzzaman to jail rejecting his bail plea in a case filed under Digital Security Act by a Jubo League leader, youth wing of ruling Awami-League (AL)
The BBC report said “Bangladeshi journalists say there are increasingly under pressure for reporting that is critical of the government of Sheikh Hasina. They say the DSA has created a culture of fear. According to media rights groups, cases have been filed against around 280 journalists under the DSA since it was enacted in 2018.”

Qatar-based English news channel AL Jazeera ran a report with the headline, “Bangladesh journalist arrested after report on high food prices.”

AL Jazeera said in its report, “Bangladeshi police have arrested a journalist of a leading daily under a controversial media law following the publishing of a story that criticised rising food prices in the country.”

“The latest data in February by the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the prices of almost all essential items have increased by between 1 percent and 151 percent year-on-year on average in the country. The price of meat price has risen by an average of 39 percent, while rice was up by 30 per cent,” the report read.

“According to research published on Wednesday by the South Asian Network of Economic Modeling, a Bangladeshi think tank, some 96 percent and 89 percent of poor people in the country have reduced their meat and fish consumption respectively in the last six months due to high inflation and rising food prices,” the Al Jazeera report states.

The AL Jazeera report said, “Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan later told reporters in his office that Shams was arrested under the Digital Security Act (DSA) as his report was “false, fabricated and ill-motivated”… Denounced by critics as “flawed” and “draconian”, the DSA allows for jail sentences of up to 14 years.”

It read, “Qadaruddin Shishir, Bangladesh Fact Check editor at the Agency France Paris news agency, told Al Jazeera that Prothom Alo did not use any fake quotes in its story.

“Yes, there was confusion because Prothom Alo used the wrong photo with the quotes in its Facebook post but the newspaper issued a clarification. On the other hand, what lawyer Majumder or Channel 71 did was misleading. They tried to establish Sobuj gave that quotes when clearly it was given by day labourer Hossain whom they didn’t interview or bother to find,” Qadaruddin Shishir said.

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Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman and reporter Samsuzzaman Shams
Qadaruddin Shishir said this was part of a misinformation campaign run by many pro-government activists and media. “They always try to muzzle down the media who run critical stories against the government narrative of continuous development,” he added.

US-based news agency Associated Press published a news titled “Bangladeshi journalist arrested under disputed digital law.”

“Police in Bangladesh arrested a journalist for an influential newspaper on Wednesday on charges of spreading false news under the contentious Digital Security Act, authorities said,” the Associated Press reads.

“The case was filed under the Digital Security Act by a man who reportedly belongs to the youth wing of Hasina’s governing Awami League party. Journalists and human rights groups oppose the law, saying it is used to suppress dissidents and government critics. The government says the law, enacted in 2018, is needed to fight misinformation, disinformation and attempts to undermine people’s rights,” the report states.

UK’s The Guardian carried out a news on the arrest of Samsuzzaman published by Paris-based international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) with the headline “Bangladesh journalist charged over story about rising food prices.”

The report said, “Bangladesh police on Wednesday charged a reporter from a leading newspaper with producing “false news”, stoking fears about media freedom, after an article about high food prices went viral.”

“The Prothom Alo article was published on Sunday and included quotes from ordinary people talking about their lives on the occasion of Bangladesh’s independence day.”

“The cost of food has soared in Bangladesh since the middle of 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its currency, the taka, has fallen sharply against the US dollar,” the report added.
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Super Mario Bros Full Movie
Super Mario Bros Full Movie
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Super Mario Bros Full Movie
A team of 15-16 plainclothesmen claimed to be members of police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) picked up Samsuzzaman from his house in Savar near Jahangirnagar University, outskirts of capital Dhaka at around 4:00am on Wednesday.

One of the plainclothesmen searched Samsuzzaman’s room and seized his laptop, two mobile phones and portable hard disk. Later, the men took Samsuzzaman with them to an unknown place.

Prior to this, a ‘picture card’ was prepared to post on Facebook, attaching the comment of day labourer Zakir Hossain on Sunday. But the card incorporated the photograph of a child, Sabuj, mistakenly. Later, Prothom Alo authorities withdrew the card as soon as they noticed the inconsistency.

In the report, it was clearly said that the comment was taken from Zakir Hossain, not from the child.

Prothom Alo’s staff correspondent in Savar, Samsuzzaman, carried out the report for which he was picked up early on Wednesday from his residence.


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