Bangladesh authorities charge 3 journalists under Digital Security Act

Washington, D.C., September 21, 2021 — Bangladesh authorities must immediately drop all charges against journalists Kabir Kishore, Tasneem Khalil, and Shafiqul Islam Kajol, and cease harassing members of the press under the draconian Digital Security Act, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On September 8 and 12, the Dhaka Cyber Tribunal accepted Digital Security Act charges against Kishore, a cartoonist; Khalil, editor of the Sweden-based news website Netra News; and Kajol, a photograpKishore and Kajol are currently free on bail, according to those sources. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Khalil, who lives in Sweden, the journalist told CPJ in a phone interview.

her and editor with the Daily Pakkhakal magazine, according to multiple news reports and a person familiar with the cases, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal by Bangladesh authorities.

The Bangladesh government must immediately cease its legal harassment of journalists Kabir Kishore, Tasneem Khalil, and Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who are being persecuted for their political commentary,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities must drop all charges against them, stop harassing journalists in retaliation for their work, and repeal the draconian Digital Security Act, which enables these legal abuses.”

The Dhaka Cyber Tribunal accepted a charge sheet against Kajol on September 8, stemming from a criminal defamation complaint filed against him and dozens of others in March 2020 by Saifuzzaman Shikhor, a member of parliament with the ruling Awami League political party, according to various news reports, the person familiar with the case, and CPJ research, which said that two other people affiliated with the Awami League also filed two additional complaints against Kajol at that time.