DIGITAL SECURITY ACT AL MP sues Manabzamin editor, 31 others

A Dhaka court on Tuesday asked the police to submit report on March 20 in a case filed against  the daily Manabzamin editor-in-chief Matiur Rahman Chowdhury and 31 others under the Digital Security Act on charge of ‘publishing false news and circulating it on social media.’

Saifuzzaman Shikhor, ruling party lawmaker for Magura 1, filed the case with Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station Monday night.

The case documents were sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court without arresting any accused.

Metropolitan magistrate Sarafuzzaman Ansari had seen and signed the case document and asked police to submit report on March 20, said sub-inspector Asaduzzaman, general recording officer at the court for Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station.

Shikhor in the case statement alleged that the newspaper on March 2 published a story on expelled Juba Mahila League leader Shamima Nur Papia, now in jail in various cases.

He said that the story under the headline ‘Papiyar Mukhe Amla, MP, Byabasayi Saha Tirish Janer Nam (Papiya names 30 including bureaucrats, MPs and businessmen)’ contained false information and the accused defamed him by sharing it on social media.

They tried to create a negative impression on people’s mind and disrupt the law and order situation, the case statement read.

Matiur Rahman Chowdhury told New Age that he was surprised at filing of the case for a report which did not have any specific mention of Awami League lawmaker Saifuzzaman Shikhor.

The other accused include Al Amin, a staff reporter of the daily who wrote the story, and some people who shared the news on social media, said sub-inspector Asaduzzaman.

Meanwhile, the Amnesty International in a statement called on Bangladesh government to maintain restraint on further actions against the Manabzamin editor and 31 others and drop the case filed against them immediately.

‘We are alarmed by the vague and overly-broad provisions within the Digital Security Act and the rigorous punishment that they entail for legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Bangladesh must decriminalise defamation and review the legislation so that it is in compliance with international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a state party,’ said Saad Hammadi, South Asia Campaigner of the organisation.

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