Dhaka terror attack survivor Hasnat Reza Karim is still being interrogated regarding the attack, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said yesterday.
“Hasnat Karim is still being interrogated. No information about him is yet confirmed. Everything will be disclosed after the investigation ends,” he said while speaking with reporters regarding the anti-militant operation in Kallyanpur, Dhaka.
However, the minister did not disclose where Hasnat was being interrogated.
At least 20 people including 17 foreign nationals were killed when militants attacked Holey Artisan Bakery and O’ Kitchen building in posh Gulshan area in Dhaka on July 1 night.
UK citizen Hasnat, a former lecturer at North South University, as well as Tahmid Hasib Khan, a resident of Canada and a student at the University of Toronto, were taken into custody by the Detective Branch of police for interrogation with the rest of the survivors after a joint commando team stormed the restaurant ending the 11-hour terror siege and killing the attackers.
While the rest of the survivors were released after debriefing, Hasnat and Tahmid's families said they had not returned home, but law enforcers claimed several times that they had released the duo.
Later, police admitted to having them in custody and under interrogation due to their apparent dubious role during the hostage crisis.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, investigation sources said Hasnat was being detained on suspicion of having played a major role in Gulshan terror attack.
“We suspect that Hasnat rented a house in Baridhara to help terrorists plan the attack. In addition, he had several meetings with the [Gulshan] attackers in that house,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
He said Hasnat went to Holey Artisan Bakery with his family so he could divert law enforcers' suspicion regarding his “involvement” with the attack.
Police sources said Hasnat went to the bakery prior to the attack, waited there for the perfect time, then sent word to the terrorists to launch the attack.
The attackers released Hasnat and his family before the rescue operation began.
Police have already seized a laptop from his Banani residence and are now scrutinising its content.
Investigators have yet to officially confirm Hasnat's role in the attack.
Law enforcers have long been playing hide-and-seek over keeping Hasnat and Tahmid in custody over their alleged involvement in the terror attack.
Their families and several international human rights groups have been campaigning for their release.
London-based rights group Amnesty International has demanded that Bangladesh government immediately ensure that Hasnat has access to his family, a lawyer and to any medical attention he may require.
Amnesty also said Hasnat should be released unless he is charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence and presented before a court.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has echoed Amnesty and urged the government to protect the rights of Hasnat and Tahmid. The US-based group called on the authorities to admit their detentions and clarify their whereabouts.
HRW said the authorities needed to either charge or release them immediately. It claimed the length of time the two men had been held incommunicado was a direct violation of their basic rights.
The rights group also called upon both the UK and Canadian authorities to press for consular access to ensure their safety and well-being.