One journalist released; another remains in detention

New York, January 8, 2003—Journalist and human rights activist Shahriar Kabir, who had been detained for one month on suspicion of conducting “anti-state activities,” was released yesterday.

However, another journalist, Saleem Samad, who was also accused of conducting “anti-state activities,” remains in custody despite a High Court order to release him on bail. Samad was arrested on November 29 because of his work with a documentary film crew for Britain’s Channel 4 “Unreported World” series. The filmmakers, who were also arrested in November and subsequently deported, had interviewed Kabir (See CPJ’s protest letter of January 6).

Samad and Kabir have reportedly been tortured during their detentions.

“CPJ welcomes Shahriar Kabir’s release, but we call on the government to abide by the High Court’s order and immediately release Saleem Samad,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We also demand that the government thoroughly investigate allegations of torture.”

At about 5:00 p.m. on January 7, Kabir was released from jail in the southern city of Chittagong following a High Court order declaring his detention illegal. He returned last night to the capital, Dhaka.

The High Court has also ordered the release of Samad on bail, asking the government to present evidence in court showing why Samad’s detention should not be declared illegal. However, government authorities have ignored the order and are keeping him in custody under the Special Powers Act, which allows authorities to detain anyone suspected of anti-state activities for up to 90 days without trial. A hearing is expected later this week.

Kabir, who was arrested on December 8, was also held under the Special Powers Act.