Cases and arrests against journalists for unintentionally publishing incorrect information cannot be reasonable, it says
Rights group Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) has expressed alarm over the arrest of journalist Hedayet Hossain Molla in a Digital Security Act case.
In a press release on Wednesday, ASK demanded his release and withdrawal of the case that was filed against him and another reporter.
“Considering freedom of the press, the expected role of media in a democratic system and the greater impact of this incident on journalism, ASK urges the relevant authorities to withdraw the case against the two journalists and release the arrested journalist immediately,” the release said.
The arrestee, Hedait Hossain Molla, is a correspondent for the Dhaka Tribune and the Bangla Tribune, and the city editor of Khulna-based Daily Probaho. On Tuesday evening, plainclothes policemen arrested him in a case filed under the Digital Security Act, 2018, for providing “false” information regarding the 11th general election. Rashidul Islam, the Khulna correspondent of Daily Manabzamin, was also sued in the same case.
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Khulna Assistant Returning Officer and Batiaghata Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Debashish Chowdhury filed the case with Batiaghata police station. Hedait had reported.
ASK said in its statement that the Digital Security Act has been widely criticized since its passing due to its overbroad sections, arrests of journalists for publishing incorrect information, and 14 non-bailable offences, among others.
“Journalists have repeatedly expressed concerns that this law curtails freedom of the press and the scope of journalism. Cases against and arrest of journalists under this law will further exacerbate their fears,” ASK said.
“Cases and arrests against journalists for unintentionally publishing incorrect information cannot be reasonable. They should be given the opportunity to provide corrigendum or explanation. Journalists collect information for their news from various sources,” it said.
The allegations against Hedait and Rashidul are that that despite 80% voter turnout in the Khulna 1 constituency, which encompasses the Batighata and Dacope upazilas, they had reported that 22,419 more votes were cast than the actual number of total voters in the constituency during Sunday’s general election.