BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday alleged that the lower court has issued a “dictated” order by granting conditional bail to Prothom Alo journalist Rozina Islam.
“Just think where the judicial system has gone? The law under which she [Rozina] was arrested is bailable. They are applying an obsolete law enacted during the British period, but it has a bailable section,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office, the BNP leader said: “After waiting for instructions [from the government] and buying time, you [the court] have given bail on the condition that she can’t go abroad and on a bond of Tk5,000. We can’t understand why she can’t go abroad. We think this a dictated verdict.”
Prothom Alo senior reporter Rozina Islam, who was sent to jail on May 18 in a case filed under the Official Secrets Act, walked out of Kashimpur Women’s Central Jail in the afternoon.
Earlier in the day, a Dhaka court granted interim bail to Rozina until July 15 in the case. Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Baki Billah granted the bail on a bond of Tk 5,000. The court also asked her to submit her passport.
Rozina had been detained at the Secretariat for over five hours before being handed over to police on May 17, as she allegedly took photos of documents related to government negotiations with pharmaceutical firms to buy Covid-19 vaccines, according to case documents.
Fakhrul said their party standing committee at their virtual meeting on Saturday strongly protested and condemned the arrest of Rozina on charges of stealing information after torturing her physically and mentally for five hours at the Secretariat.
He said their party policymakers think Rozina went through such harassment only for publishing news on the corruption of the Awami League government.
Fakhrul said the BNP standing committee also thinks the health minister, secretary, and additional secretary and other officials concerned of the ministry should be immediately sacked and brought under the law.
The BNP leader said repressing journalists, shutting down media outlets and controlling the media are “old traditions” of Awami League.
He said many journalists were subjected to repression and imprisonment during the rule of the current government, and many of them were forced to leave the country.
The BNP leader said “black” laws like the Official Secrets Act and Digital Security Act are destroying the freedom of the press and the democratic system.
He demanded the annulment of all the “black and repressive” laws and the withdrawal of all the cases filed against journalists.
He said a strong unity between journalists is necessary to protect the existence of the media and ensure press freedom.
BNP to boycott by-polls to 4 seats
Fakhrul said their party will not take part in the upcoming by-polls to four vacant parliamentary seats.
“As the elections system has completely collapsed due to the subservient role of the incompetent Election Commission and the government’s interference, we have decided not to join the by-polls to Laxmipur-2, Sylhet-3, Dhaka-14 and Cumilla-5 seats,” he added.