The senior correspondent of daily Prothom Alo is accused in a case filed by Health Ministry under the Official Secrets Act
A Dhaka court has set Sunday to give decision on the bail plea filed by Prothom Alo Senior Reporter Rozina Islam in a case lodged by the Health Ministry under the Official Secrets Act.
After hearing and evaluating all relevant documents, Metropolitan Magistrate Md Baki Billah passed the order virtually on Thursday afternoon.
The court also allowed the prosecution to present other important information before it on Sunday.
Islam was not produced before the court during the hearing which started at 12:50pm and ended at 2pm.
The 42-year-old, known for her investigative journalism, was detained at the secretariat for over five hours before being handed over to police on May 17.
Also read - Rozina Islam’s bail hearing Thursday
She allegedly took photos of documents related to government negotiations with pharma companies to buy Covid-19 vaccines, according to case documents.
An FIR (first investigation report) was filed against her under the Official Secrets Act and Sections 379 and 411 of The Penal Code on a complaint filed by the Health Services Division at Shahbagh police station before the case was officially recorded.
On May 18, a Dhaka court sent the journalist to jail after rejecting the police's remand plea. Islam was then taken to Kashimpur Central Women's Jail in Gazipur.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has formed a three-member probe committee to look into the allegations of the journalist's detention at the Secretariat and also her subsequent handover to the police.
Meanwhile, the case filed against Islam was transferred to the Detective Branch of police on Wednesday.
Protest over Islam’s arrest
Journalists formed a human chain on Wednesday and Thursday in front of the National Press Club, demanding unconditional release of Islam and punishment of those involved in harassing her at the secretariat.
They also demanded withdrawal of the false cases filed against the woman scribe.
UN concern over Islam’s arrest
The United Nations has said that Islam's arrest is obviously "something concerning," noting that journalists need to be able to do their work free of any sort of harassment or physical threat anywhere around the world.
"Look, I've seen…we've seen the press reports on the journalist who was arrested in Bangladesh. It’s, obviously, something that we’re looking at. It’s something that's concerning," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary General, at a regular briefing on May 18.
Amnesty statement over arrest
Islam's arrest and the failure of the Bangladesh authorities to provide concrete evidence pointing to a recognizable criminal offence raise concerns that she is being targeted for her critical reporting, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
In the absence of such evidence, the authorities must release Islam immediately and she should not be punished for fulfilling her professional duties as a journalist, the human rights organization added.
TIB condemns arrest
Transparency International Bangladesh has also strongly condemned the detention and harassment of the investigative journalist at the Ministry of Health while performing her professional duties.
In a statement issued on May 18, TIB demanded immediate withdrawal of charges and unconditional release of Islam.
It has also urged the government to show prudence by ensuring exemplary punishment to the culprits through proper investigation into the incident.