The BFIU has asked for bank details of 11 journalist leaders
Journalists have condemned a request from the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) for bank details of 11 of journalist leaders as a “scare tactic” that hinders the freedom of the press.
Leaders of the National Press Club, the two factions of Bangladesh Federal Journalists Union (BFUJ), the two factions of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), and Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) expressed their condemnation of the BFIU move at a press conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday.
The four journalists’ organizations also called a rally in front of the National Press Club at 12 noon on Sunday to protest the BFIU move.
In response to a question, Molla Jalal, president of one of the factions of the BFUJ, said: “Of course we look at the move of seeking bank details as a threat. The move has been done on purpose and is malicious.
“This has created concern, anxiety and apprehension among the leaders of all organizations. We want to know from the government why the letter [seeking bank details] was issued,” he added.
National Press Club President Farida Yasmin said: “There should be specific reasons for asking for bank details. If there are specific allegations of unusual transactions or suspicion of financing militancy, then bank details may be sought. However, we do not know of any logical reason for the move.
“I have spoken to important people in the government, including the information minister, and they know nothing about it,” she added.
She further said the BFIU had tarnished the reputation of the National Press Club without a valid reason by asking for the bank details.
Reading out a written statement, DRU general secretary Mosiur Rahman said seeking the bank details of leaders of professional journalist bodies was unprecedented in the history of the country.
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Mosiur Rahman sought a specific explanation from the government regarding the BFIU move and also demanded compensation from the government authorities concerned.
“The authorities should disclose their findings, or the public will misunderstand the situation,” he said.
The 11 journo leaders whose bank details were sought
Information on the bank details of National Press Club President Farida Yasmin and General Secretary Ilias Khan were sought.
Moreover, the detailed bank account history of BFUJ faction president Molla Jalal, acting secretary general Abdul Majid, president of the other faction of BFUJ M Abdullah, and secretary general Nurul Amin Rokon has been sought. The letter of the intelligence unit of the central bank mistakenly listed Dhaka instead of Bangladesh when mentioning the names of both BFUJ factions.
General Secretary of one faction of DUJ Sajjad Alam Khan Topu, President of the other faction of DUJ Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury and General Secretary Md Shahidul Islam’s bank account details were also sought.
Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) president Morsalin Nomani and general secretary Mosiur Rahman Khan were also on the BFIU list.
The BFIU asked for the bank details on September 13. Sources from the unit and several commercial banks declined to comment on whether the BFIU had received any responses.