‘Bank details of journalist leaders sought to intimidate community'
Leaders of journalist bodies think the government sought bank details of 11 journalist leaders to intimidate the community.
The journalists will hold a protest rally in front of National Press Club at 12 noon on Sunday to protest the government decision.
The programme was called at a joint press briefing of National Press Club, Bangladesh Federal Journalists Union, Dhaka Journalists Union and Dhaka Reporters Unity held at press club on Saturday.
The Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) last week issued letters to concerned banks, asking for details of the bank accounts of 11 journalist leaders, including the president and the general secretary of the National Press Club.
In a written statement, DRU general secretary Mosiur Rahman said seeking bank details of leaders of professional journalist bodies is unprecedented in the history of country. The authorities have made the integrity of all journalist bodies and of the profession as a whole questionable through such moves. It has also created fear among the journalists.
He said authorities can investigate any specific allegation against anyone but such a gross move against all elected journalist leaders is motivated.
DRU secretary also sought specific explanation from the government over the matter.
President of one faction of Bangladesh Federal Journalist Union, Mollah Jalal, also termed BFIU’s decision as ill-motivated.
“It is a threat to independent journalism and freedom of expression. I think it is ill-motivated. We want to know about this from the government,” he said.
Press Club president Farida Yasmin asked if such a decision is part of any deep conspiracy.
National Press Club general secretary Ilias Khan, acting secretary general of BFUJ Abdul Majid, president of the another faction of BFUJ M Abdullah, and secretary general Nurul Amin Rokon. President of one faction of DUJ Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury and general secretary Md Shahidul Islam and DRU president Morsalin Nomani, among others, were present at the press briefing.
Some media reported that BFIU sought bank account details of journalist leaders following instructions of a specific agency of the government.
The journalist leaders whose bank account details were sought are National Press Club president Farida Yasmin (backed by Awami League) and general secretary Ilias Khan (backed by BNP), president of the Awami League-backed BFUJ, Molla Jalal, and acting secretary general Abdul Majid, president of the BNP-backed BFUJ, M Abdullah, and secretary general Nurul Amin Rokon. The letters, mistakenly, wrote 'Dhaka' instead of 'Bangladesh' when mentioning the names of the two organisations.
The bank account details were also sought of BNP-supported DUJ president Abdul Kader Gani Chowdhury and general secretary Md Shahidul Islam. BFIU also asked for the details of the bank accounts of Awami League-supported DUJ general secretary Sajjad Alam Khan Topu and Dhaka Reporters' Unit (DRU) president Morsalin Nomani and general secretary Mosiur Rahman Khan.
In the letter to the banks it was said that all details of the present and past banks accounts of these 11 journalists including the account opening forms, KYC profiles and updated records of their transactions, be sent by 13 September to the anti-money laundering department.