The French Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday said the Facebook Messenger account of Arthur Angé, a Frenchman who has reportedly been missing for at least the last 12 weeks, was found activated.
The information divulged by Sophie Aubert, French ambassador to Bangladesh, was the first of its kind by any official from the embassy regarding the incident, after repeated attempts by the Dhaka Tribune.
Replying to a query, Aubert, in an email wrote that Arthur's Messenger account is regularly activated.
“We are trying to reach him,” she said.
When contacted, his cousin Maeva too seconded the information of the Messenger account being operational.
Around 5:30pm, she said the account was shown active three hours ago.
On Sunday, she said they learnt from a Burmese friend of Arthur that he had a plan to cross the Bangladesh-Myanmar border illegally.
Arthur contacted the friend on January 27 and informed her that he would reach Chittagong on January 29 to cross the border, Maeva said, adding, he intended to go to Thailand and then Malaysia by sea.
“He said he needed to be in Malaysia by the beginning of February to meet a friend,” Maeva quoted the friend as saying.
However, she suspects that the cell phone in which the Messenger was installed might have been stolen or the account could have been hacked.
Arthur's family and friends claim that they are yet to know his whereabouts, after he went missing somewhere in Bangladesh.
After learning about Arthur, a backpacker, being unaccounted for, the newspaper tried to contact the embassy for its statement about any initiative to help him find.
According to Aubert, the embassy, on information from Arthur's families and French Foreign Ministry, has been trying track down Arthur's whereabouts.
The embassy has already contacted Bangladesh's Home Ministry about Arthur's potential disappearance and already circulated a “wanted notice” through its network.
Aubert, in her reply to Arthur's possible journey to cross the Bangladesh border through India or Myanmar to go to Malaysia or Thailand as claimed by his families and friends, said they are contacting French embassies in those countries and elsewhere as well.
“Neither of the embassies, including that in Dhaka, is yet to locate him,” she continued.
In another development, the ambassador told a local news channel that before he went missing, Arthur was stopped near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar by local police.
“We also asked him not to cross the border on foot,” she said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Jashim Uddin of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (Gulshan diplomatic zone), confirming Maeva and the ambassador's claim, said they sought help from immigration police.
But, Javed Patwari, additional inspector general of police and the chief of special branch that covers the immigration wing, did not respond to the reporter when contacted several times.
Six-foot-tall, Arthur, a man with brown eyes and chestnut-red hair, began his worldwide expedition from Montpellier in France three years ago. His Facebook profile cover photo has an illustration of the world map with “World Tour By Land” written below, which he had posted on October 28, 2013.