Dhaka: Thirty-five eminent citizens of Bangladesh have, in a statement, called for the withdrawal of sedition charges against Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam.
Anam has been charged with sedition for publishing unverified stories of corruption against Sheikh Hasina during 2007-08, when a caretaker regime was in force.
Condemning the filing of 75 cases against Anam, including 17 sedition-related prosecution pleas, the citizens, in their statement, called for an end to the smear campaign.
They said the Daily Star editor should have been commended for a rare display of professional values after he had regretted “publishing without verification a few stories based on information provided by a state intelligence agency during the military-backed caretaker government rule in 2007”.
Instead, they said, he is being harassed, which is sad, unexpected and frustrating, adding that the present scenario would discourage journalists and even others from spontaneously admitting their mistakes in future and would give rise to falsehood in society.
The eminent citizens also called for a constructive discussion on what legal and administrative actions should be taken to stop interference of the state intelligence agencies in the functioning of a free media in the country.
Anam has been charged with trying to uproot the democratic government system by helping the unconstitutional government in its efforts to banish Hasina and other political leaders from politics.
The cases against Anam were filed after he attended a television talk show on February 6, where he admitted that he had had a lapse of editorial judgement in publishing a few reports which were based on information provided by the Task Force Interrogation Cell during the 2007-08 tenure of the last caretaker government. He said he had published those without verifying them independently.
The lawsuits against Anam claimed that the reports run by the newspaper led to the arrest of Bangladesh Awami League president Sheikh Hasina. (ANI)