News editor arrested in Bangladesh

New York, August 1, 2011–Police in Bangladesh should either charge or release a news editor arrested Sunday, whose detention may be linked to his writing on government corruption, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police in plainclothes arrested Ekramul Haq, founder and editor of the Bengali-language Sheershanews Web site and Sheersha Kagoj weekly, in his home in the capital, Dhaka, on Sunday morning, according to local and international news reports. Police told journalists that a businessman had accused the editor of trying to extort 2 million taka (US$26,800) from him for suppressing a negative news report, the reports said.

Sheershanews said the arrest was part of a harassment campaign in retaliation for Haq’s reporting on government corruption, according to local news reports. The government cancelled media accreditation for the outlets’ 10 journalists, including Haq, two weeks ago, according to Agence France-Presse. Government spokesman Harunur Rashid told AFP that the outlets “violated all norms of journalism” and published “character assassinations of ministers and officials.”

“We are deeply skeptical about the arrest of Ekramul Haq so soon after the government cancelled his accreditation,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has a record of not tolerating criticism from the media.”

Haq launched Sheershanews as a news Web site two years ago, according to local news reports. His weekly has recently accused businessmen with government connections and two ministers of corruption, according to AFP.