Md Layes Mondol and Md Sabid, journalists with Trishalnews.com, were arrested on November 21, 2017, on charges of defamation under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communications Act, according to local news reports.
Sabid, the news editor of the online news site, is accused of publishing a “false” and “fabricated” article about the Bangladesh Army, government, and former chief justice SK Sinha, according to bdnews24, an online news site. The article, which was posted November 16, had been re-published from another news site, according to Julfikar Ali Manik, a freelance journalist who was investigating the arrest. During primary interrogation, Mondol admitted to publishing the article, according to the Daily Star newspaper.
The article’s translated headline read, “Death threats to relatives leads Sinha to resign,” according to bdnews24. Sinha took leave from the Supreme Court and left the country in October after controversy over a verdict that repealed a constitutional amendment that had allowed the Bangladeshi parliament to impeach Supreme Court judges for misconduct, according to news reports. His official resignation came in November, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Mymensingh Superintendent of Police Syed Nurul Islam told CPJ in late November he could not give details of the case because he could not recall them. Earlier in the month, he was quoted in bdnews24 saying that Mondol and Sabid’s offence was “as grave as sedition,” “conspiracy,” and an “attempt to tarnish the image of Bangladesh armed forces, the government and the country.”
Sabid is being held at the Mymensingh Central Jail, Manik told CPJ. He has applied for bail, but no hearing date has been set yet.