The government has been directed to come up with an explanation within a week
The High Court has issued a ruling asking the government why acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam, arrested in an ICT Act case during the road safety protests, should not be granted bail.
The High Court bench of Justices AKM Asaduzzaman and SM Mojibur Rahman issued the ruling after a hearing of a bail petition for Shahidul on Sunday.
The government has been directed to come up with an explanation within a week.
Barristers Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua represented Shahidul at the hearing, while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the state.
Shahidul, an internationally-renowned Bangladeshi photographer, photojournalist, and activist, has been in police custody since August 5. His arrest followed an interview he gave to Al Jazeera, and posts made on Facebook, in which he criticized the government following issues that rose during the then-ongoing student protests in Dhaka.
Police filed a case under the ICT act against Shahidul alleging that he had “provoked people and spread false propaganda.”
The attorney general told the court: “Shahidul made his comment like a political leader. His statement was false and wicked. He has collaboration with foreign countries. That is why Al Jazeera telecast his full interview. Otherwise they never telecast more than a few seconds of any news related to Bangladesh. The next parliamentary election is knocking at the door. Shahidul’s statement consists of many elements that can make the situation in the country volatile. So he cannot get bail.”
He later told the press: “Shahidul Alam has not received interim bail. It has issued a rule for a response within a week.”
Mahbubey Alam said that the statements made on Facebook Live “absolutely” fall under the ICT Act.
“We have opposed his bail on this basis.”
Shahidul’s lawyer Sara Hossain said: “The main point is that the allegations against Shahidul Alam are completely baseless. The police have been unable to prove that they have any basis.”
She added: “All Shahidul’s phones, laptops and other electronics were seized by the police. Now he has no evidence to produce that what he does not threaten any situation in the country.”
Shahidul’s statements do not fall under the jurisdiction of the ICT Act, she said.
The acclaimed photographer is currently in the Dhaka Central Jail. His bail petition was submitted on September 18 on the grounds of illness, and that he would not leave the country.
A Dhaka court had earlier rejected his bail petition on September 11.