The 63-year-old photojournalist was picked up by law enforcement officials on August 5
The High Court has granted bail to renowned photographer Shahidul Alam in a case filed under the controversial Information and Communication Technology Act for spreading “propaganda through social media” during a student movement demanding safer roads in August.
The bench of Justices Sheikh Abdul Awal and Bhishmadev Chakraborty passed the order on Thursday after the hearing on a rule.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam and Deputy Attorney General Bashir Ullah represented the state during the hearing, while Barristers Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua stood for Shahidul.
Afterwards, his lawyers said that the court granted Shahidul bail considering his age, physical condition, and the time he spent behind bars.
Jyotirmoy told the Dhaka Tribune that there was no legal bar anymore to Shahidul’s release from jail following the High Court’sruling.
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Prison authorities would release Shahidul once it received a copy of the High Court order via the trial court, he added.
But, the lawyer said,as the next two days are government holidays, Shahidulmight have to stay in prison for those days in line with normal procedure.
The attorney general, however,added that they would move theAppellate Division against the high court order.
Later, in a video posted on Facebook, Barrister Saraalso urged the government to follow the court order and free Shahidul.
“During the bail hearing, the court noted that Shahidul did not make any confessional statement to any of the allegationslevelledagainst him,” she said.
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On August 5, Shahidul was picked up by the police’s Detective Branch (DB) officials from his Dhanmondi residence, hours after he went on Facebook live to speak and gave Al Jazeera an interview about clashes during the student movement demanding road safety.
Police filed the case against him under the ICT Act at Ramna police station the next day, accusing him of “provoking people and spreading false information and propaganda against the government” centring the movement.
Afterwards, his bail pleas were rejected by the court several times as he remained in jail.
Shahidul, also the founder of Drik and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, filed a bail petition with the High Court on August 28 through his lawyers, requesting that he might be granted bail as he was ill.
However, on September 4, a judge of a two-member High Court bench felt “embarrassed” to hear Shahidul’s petition.
The next day, the High Court directed the authorities concerned to provide first-class division to Shahidul in jail after hearing another petition.
That bench also forwarded the petition to the chief justice for a decision the same day.
Meanwhile, Judge KM Imrul Kayes of Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court had denied bail to Shahidul on September 11.
Later on October 7, the High Court issued a ruling asking the authorities concerned to explain within seven days why Shahidul should not be granted bail in the case.