Mahmudur Rahman arrested editor of the pro-BNP 'Amar Desh'

Mahmudur Rahman, acting editor of the pro-BNP 'Amar Desh' daily, was arrested on Thursday morning in Dhaka.
DMP Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman told that the editor was arrested from Amar Desh office around 9:00am.

He was taken to the Minto Road office of the Detective Branch in the capital.

Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman said a case was filed against the editor on a High Court directive for his involvement in the December 2012 Skype controversy.

“He (Mahmudur) has been arrested in this case.”

Charges will be brought against him under sections 57 and 58 of Cyber Crime and ICT Act -2006 and sections 124, 124(a), 120(b) and 511 of the Penal Code, Masudur Rahman said.

“He has been arrested on the basis of evidence obtained after investigation. That is why his arrest took some time,” the deputy commisioner said, when asked why it took more than four months after the Skpye controversy to arrest Mahmudur Rahman.

ICT prosecutor Shahidur Rahman filed a case with Tejgaon police on Dec 14 over the publication of the private conversation of the judge Nizamul Huq and the Belgium-based Ahmed Ziauddin.

Mahmudur Rahman and Amar Desh publisher Hashmat Ali Hasu were sued in the case and accused of sedition and incitement to public disorder among other charges.

Meanwhile, employees at Amar Desh office protested against the arrest of their Acting Editor.

“Police took away video footage from our close circuit cameras as well computers and files of our Acting Editor,” Amar Desh Correspondent Mahbubur Rahman said.

Mahmudur Rahman was Acting Editor at Amar Desh since 2008. BNP leader and former BNP Home Minister Mosaddek Ali Falu is the owner of Amar Desh.

Earlier on Jun 2 in 2010, Mahmudur Rahman was arrested in a fraud case filed by Amar Desh publisher Hashmat Ali Hasu. Another case was filed on the same day against him for obstructing police to perform duty. Later a total of 49 cases were filed against him including a defamation suit.

In Aug 19, 2010, Mahmudur Rahman was sentenced for six months and fined Tk 100,000 over sedition. On failure to comply, he was sentenced to one more month to prison by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.

He came out of a seven-month prison sentence in this case on Mar 17 last year.

He was the Executive Chairman for Board of Investment Bangladesh after BNP-Jamaat alliance came to power in 2001. In 2005, he became the Energy Advisor to then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

Awami League leaders have alleged that 'Amar Desh' was inciting violence, with some saying that Rahman was used as funding conduit by the Opposition alliance to pay off Hifazat-e-Islam leaders for undertaking the recent Chittagong-Dhaka long march.

On Wednesday, foreign minister Dipu Moni, while briefing foreign diplomats, warned that some media groups were clearly crossing the limits of media freedom and were involved in inciting violence.

Mahmudur Rahman was energy edvisor to former Prime Minister Khaleda during the 2001-06 BNP regime.

He shot into focus when 'Amar Desh' exposed the so-called Skype controversy, by publishing 'transcripts' of conversation between Justice Nizamul Huq of the International Crimes Tribunal and Belgium-based international law expert Ahmed Ziauddin.

Justice Huq had to resign and the first war crimes tribunal had to be reconstituted but questions have been raised about the legality of hacking into Justice Huq's Skype account.

Secular groups allege Mahmudur Rahman is the moving force inciting religious sentiments against bloggers and online activists leading Shahbagh's Ganajagaran Mancha. The Mancha has demanded Mahmudur Rahman's arrest.

Earlier on Feb 23, Mahmudur Rahman was implicated in five cases filed by Ramna and Shahbagh police stations, in which he has been accused of whipping up religious passions and incitement to cause public disorder.

They said Mahmudur Rahman is the moving force behind the disinformation campaign against bloggers and online activists leading Shahbagh's Ganajagaran Mancha.

On Feb 22, Amar Desh’s lead news headline, roughly translated from English, read, “Bloggers committing contempt of religion and court”.


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