Rozina Islam: Bangladesh arrests journalist for COVID reportingRozina Islam: Bangladesh arrests journalist for COVID reporting  Posted By :


The arrest of a female Bangladeshi investigative reporter who wrote scathing stories on the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has triggered protests by hundreds of reporters.

Rozina Islam, an investigative journalist for Prothom Alo newspaper, the country’s largest circulated newspaper, was detained late on Monday under the Official Secrets Act, police said.

She appeared in court on Tuesday charged with stealing health ministry documents under the act. She is set to appear in court on Thursday.

Islam, known for unearthing government corruption, faces up to 14 years in prison and the death penalty if formally charged and convicted.

Rights groups and media watchdogs say a crackdown on the media has grown during the coronavirus crisis and hundreds of journalists went to the Dhaka police station where the 42-year-old reporter was taken.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called for Islam’s immediate release. “We are deeply alarmed that Bangladesh officials detained a journalist and filed a complaint under a draconian colonial-era law that carries ridiculously harsh penalties,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher in a statement.

“Bangladesh police and authorities should recognise that Rozina Islam is a journalist whose work is a public service and should immediately drop the case against her and allow her to go free.”

Some journalists tried to block entrances to the building and the protests continued on Tuesday.

Before her formal detention, Islam spent five hours at the health ministry, which accused her of stealing documents, according to a ministry complaint seen by AFP news agency.