ntelligence agents search for New York Times sources

New York, January 28, 2005—Intelligence agents have been assigned to look for anyone who might have provided interviews or information for the January 23 New York Times article on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh, according to a Bangladeshi intelligence source quoted in the Dhaka-based newspaper The Daily Star.

The search has been extended to include journalist Saleem Samad, who did not work on the Times article but who has contributed to foreign news reports in the past, The Daily Star reported.

Two agents visited Samad’s family home in Dhaka yesterday evening and asked his father about the whereabouts of Samad, his wife, and his son, according to his brother. Samad, currently a reporter for Time Asia, has been living in Canada since mid-fall 2004. Samad told CPJ that he now fears for the security of his wife and son, who remain in Dhaka.

Samad was previously arrested in November 2002 and imprisoned for two months for working with a documentary crew preparing a report on Bangladesh for Britain’s Channel 4. Samad has said that he was tortured in prison.

Eliza Griswold’s Times article, titled “The Next Islamist Revolution?,” reported on militant Islam taking hold in Bangladesh. The topic is a particularly controversial one, and Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Iftekar Ahmed Chowdhury, condemned The New York Times article as “baseless, partial and misleading.”

Griswold and photographer Meredith Davenport, who were followed by intelligence agents while they were conducting their reporting for the story in November, told CPJ that they were concerned for the safety of their sources.