A Dhaka court sentenced Choudhury, editor of the Bangladeshi tabloid Weekly Blitz, to seven years in prison in relation to his articles about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
Choudhury was convicted of harming the country’s interests under section 505(A) of the penal code, having been found to have intentionally written distorting and damaging materials, reports said. Choudhury had written about anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries and the spread of Islamist militancy in Bangladesh.
The prosecutor in the case, Shah Alam Talukder, told Agence France-Presse that Choudhury was taken to prison after the verdict. The editor’s family said that an appeal of the decision to the High Court is pending, news reports said. No details about his state of health, or where he is being held, had been disclosed as of late 2017.
Choudhury was arrested in November 2003 when he tried to travel to Israel to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association. Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens to travel there. Choudhury was released on bail in 2005.
He was charged with passport violations, but the charges were dropped in February 2004 and he was accused of sedition, among other charges, in connection with his articles, according to news reports. The editor was not convicted on the sedition charge, the reports said. He was arrested again in 2012 in connection with embezzlement charges, and the current charges relating to his writing were filed. In Bangladesh, judicial proceedings can take years to resolve. In February 2015, Choudhury was sentenced to four years in prison on the embezzlement charges, according to news reports.