• Bangladesh 'stopped' editor from flying abroad

Shafik Rehman, who is also a British citizen, said he was prevented from boarding a flight from Dhaka to London, where his wife is receiving treatment for leukaemia.

World Bulletin / News Desk

A prominent Bangladeshi magazine editor on bail for charges of plotting to kill the prime minister's son said Thursday he had been stopped from flying to London to visit his sick wife, despite having high court clearance to travel.

The 81-year-old was released from jail last September, five months after he was arrested on charges of plotting to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's son, sparking fears of a media crackdown.

Authorities returned his seized British passport last week after the high court granted him permission to visit his ailing wife.

"The police asked to see the high court order which I have already submitted to a lower court. I showed them the order's photocopy but they said they were not advised about any clearance about my flight," Rehman told AFP.

"It's very unjust. I'm not accusing anybody, but feeling very disappointed. My wife is dying out there and she needs me beside her more than ever."

Immigration authorities contacted by AFP said they needed to verify Rehman's papers.

"He will be able to catch the next flight once we are done with the procedure," a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.

Rehman, a former speechwriter for the country's main opposition leader Khaleda Zia, was arrested last April on charges of plotting to murder Sajeeb Wazed Joy, who lives in the United States. He denies the allegations.

He was one of three pro-opposition editors arrested last year, triggering allegations by Human Rights Watch of an "organised assault on independent media".

Concerns over free speech were already high in the Muslim-majority nation after a spate of Islamist killings of secular bloggers and publishers.

Rehman was a long-time editor of Jai Jai Din, a mass-circulation Bengali daily. He now edits a popular Bengali monthly magazine called Mouchake Dhil.

 

23.02.2017 09:00
Category Asia