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Former lawmaker sues Pabna journalist under digital security law

  • Published at 11:00 am August 6th, 2021
justice DSA digital

The draconian law is thought have significantly curbed media freedom in Bangladesh

A former Awami League lawmaker in Pabna has sued a local journalist under the Digital Security Act (DSA) over a news report. 

Khandaker Azizul Haque Arzu, the former Pabna 2 MP, filed the case against Shoikat Afroz Asad with the local court in June, reports a correspondent from Pabna.

Asad, who serves as the general secretary of the Pabna Press Club, is the local correspondent for Somoy TV, Daily Bangladesh Pratidin and bdnews24.com.

He is also the editor of a local online outlet, pabnamail.com. 

The former MP filed the case with the Cybercrime Tribunal in Dhaka on June 9.

Mizanur Rahman Saikat, inspector of the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) and also the case investigating officer, informed Asad about the matter on his mobile phone on Thursday.

In a statement, local journalist bodies have expressed outrage, alleging that the former lawmaker “tries to stop news from coming out through illegal means”. 

If the journalists do not agree to the terms, they are threatened with being sued or attacked, it said.

The release added that even though the news was reported in all the mainstream media outlets, the former MP filed the case against Asad “out of spite”.

Pabna Press Club President ABM Fazlur Rahman threatened continued protests if the case is not withdrawn.

The Digital Security Act, which critics say curbs press freedom, has been a cause of worry for rights organisations with the number of cases surging alarmingly.

According to a British organization promoting freedom of speech and human rights, ARTICLE-19, as many as 63 cases were filed under the act in 2019. 

However, the number was surpassed and almost doubled within the first six months of 2020 with 108 cases.

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