Rahman, 60, acting editor and majority owner of the opposition Bengali-language daily Amar Desh, was arrested at his office on April 11, 2013, according to news reports. Rahman was charged with publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension. The government cited what it said was critical coverage of the Shahbagh movement, which calls for the death penalty for Islamist leaders on trial on war crimes charges.
News reports cited a February 2013 article published in Amar Desh as an example of the daily’s critical coverage during heightened political and religious tension. The article, headlined “Bloggers committing contempt of religion and court,” criticized self-described atheist bloggers, who helped amplify support for the Shahbagh movement, and called them “enemies of Islam” and their work “vulgar, objectionable propaganda.”
Rahman was also charged with sedition and unlawful publication in connection with his paper’s reports in December 2012 that questioned the impartiality of a war crimes tribunal set up by the government to investigate mass killings during the war of independence. The paper’s reports included leaked Skype conversations of a judge presiding over the tribunal. The controversy led to the judge’s resignation.
At his initial hearing in late 2013, Rahman refused to request bail in protest, news reports said.
Rahman was also indicted on corruption charges over allegations that he failed to submit his wealth statement despite being served several legal notices. The charges relate to his tenure as energy adviser in the previous Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government, according to reports. The party, now in opposition, is aligned with Islamist parties.
In August 2015, a Dhaka court sentenced Rahman to three years in prison for not providing details of his wealth, according to news reports. Rahman is facing trial on several other cases. It is unclear if he has been convicted in any of those cases, according to the English-language The Daily Star. CPJ contacted Rahman’s newspaper to try to verify the status of his case, but by late 2015 had not received a response.
Rahman was previously arrested in June 2010 and spent 10 months in prison for contempt of court in connection with Amar Desh reports that accused the country’s courts of bias in favor of the state.
CPJ could not determine details of his health.