JULY 23, 2005
Posted: August 8, 2005

Tariqul Haq
, Dainik Prothom AloGazi Mahbub Rahman, Ajker AloHasan Jahid, Dainik Manabzamin
Jamal Uddin Haidari, Dainik Ajker Alo
Samsul Alam, Dainik Gramer Kagoj.

Five journalists from Kushtia in southwestern Bangladesh surrendered on July 23 to the Supreme Court in Dhaka, the capital city, pleading innocent to charges of extortion.

The journalists, who spoke to The Daily Star, said they were seeking refuge in Dhaka, and they feared for their safety at home after a complaint against them was lodged by Ibrahim Ali, leader of the Jubo Dal political party, a wing of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP).

In a petition submitted to court, the journalists claimed Ali filed the case on behalf of Shahidul Islam, a BNP leader in Kushtia. The notice said that the charges were levied, “following a report published in the local and national dailies on the recent acts of vandalism by the cadres of the lawmaker.”

On July 20, the journalists reported on an attack by BNP members on Abdul Khaleque and his followers at a rally in the town of Mirpur. Khaleque is an independent leader from Kushtia, according to press reports. During the encounter, at least 50 people were injured and 14 vehicles set on fire.
Justice Abdur Rashid and Justice M. Fazlur Rahman of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court granted bail.

According to local news reports, the five journalists and two others filed a police complaint against the local BNP leader, Shahidul Alam, alleging that he and his followers were sending death threats in retaliation for their reporting. The threats began after July 20.