South Asia

Shahidul Alam Granted Bail After 102 Days in Custody, Countless Petitions

A vocal critic of the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh, the 63-year-old photojournalist had been arrested on August 5.

New Delhi: A court in Bangladesh has granted bail to 63-year-old Shahidul Alam, the award-winning photojournalist, teacher and activist  who was arrested on suspicion of spreading “propaganda and false information” during widespread student protests, in a case widely seen as a test for freedom of speech ahead of a general election next month.

“The high court granted his permanent bail considering his age and the time he spent behind bars,” the the Daily Star reported.

According to the Dhaka Tribune, “A bench of Justice Sheikh Abdul Awal and Justice Bhishmadev Chakrabortty passed the order on Thursday. Deputy attorney general Bashir Ullah appeared for the state while Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua appeared for Shahidul Alam during the court session.”

There is no legal bar for Shahidul to get released from jail following the high court verdict, Barua told the Daily Star.

Also read: ‘The Tide Will Turn’: Read Arundhati Roy’s Letter to Jailed Bangladeshi Photographer Shahidul Alam

“We’re delighted that ultimately the court has granted him bail,” Hossain said, adding she expected her client to be out soon.

The government’s top lawyer said it would appeal the high court decision. “We will soon appeal to the Supreme Court against this bail decision,” attorney general Mahbubey Alam said, adding Shahidul Alam had lowered the government’s image through his propaganda.

Also read: Why the Bangladesh Government Is Scared of Shahidul Alam

Alam was picked up from his home by plainclothes policemen without a warrant, hours after conducting two Facebook Live sessions and giving an interview to television channel Al Jazeera, in which he accused the government of extrajudicial killings and corruption – accusations the government dismissed.

(With inputs from Reuters)