New York, March 26, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists called for the immediate release of Daily Star reporter E.A.M. Asaduzzaman Tipu, who was jailed in the northern Bangladesh district of Nilphamari on Wednesday. The correspondent suffered a severe asthma attack two days after being arrested for his reporting on official mismanagement, the Dhaka-based daily reported.
“It seems clear that our colleague Asaduzzaman Tipu has been arrested in retribution for his critical reporting about local officials,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We are concerned about his health and call for his immediate release.”
Local police told reporters that Tipu had been arrested following allegations by a local fertilizer dealer that the correspondent had made “unethical demands.” The dealer, Biswajit Bhoumik Bapi, later denied making the accusation. “I filed no such case,” Bapi told reporters, according to The Daily Star.
In an editorial on Thursday, the newspaper accused the district administration of targeting the journalist for his critical reporting of the local government’s handling of fertilizer distribution in the area. Tipu had written in a March 17 Daily Star report that a “crisis” had emerged because “no specific criterion is maintained by authorities in appointing fertilizer dealers.”
In protest of their colleague’s arrest, local journalists have stopped printing positive news about local Deputy Commissioner Khandakar Mokhlesur Rahman. Tipu remained jailed despite hopes that he would be released before Bangladeshi Independence Day today, Daily Star staff reporter Rashed Hasan told CPJ.
“We don’t know why he wasn’t granted bail,” Hasan said. Under Bangladeshi court procedures, formal charges are lodged later in the process.