The letter, sent by CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler, has been published on its website on Tuesday. It said authorities arrested Rozina Islam, an award-winning investigative journalist specialising in covering health care issues, including alleged corruption at the Ministry of Health on 17 May, 2021.

The seizure of her cell phones hinders her work and severely undermines press freedom, given the sensitive reporting information contained on those devices, and compromises her personal security
Committee to Protect Journalists

“Authorities held her for over five hours without any clear legal basis after she was accused of taking pictures of official documents lying openly on a desk at the Ministry of Health. She was subsequently jailed for seven days, after which she was granted bail under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, and was ordered to surrender her passport.”

CPJ letter says, the body has “… a number of concerns about authorities’ treatment of Rozina Islam.”

The letter further said charging journalists under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act “only serves to discredit law enforcement in Bangladesh and strengthens the case that these charges are less about enforcing the law than seeking revenge against a journalist known for exposing corruption in the Ministry of Health.”

“In addition to these charges, Rozina Islam is being severely and unjustly punished. The government’s refusal to return her identity card makes it impossible for her to work as a journalist.

The government of Bangladesh should not be creating obstacles for journalists who are merely doing their jobs
Committee to Protect Journalists

“The seizure of her cell phones hinders her work and severely undermines press freedom, given the sensitive reporting information contained on those devices, and compromises her personal security.

“The confiscation of her passport makes it impossible for her to accompany her husband for necessary medical treatment abroad," it further said.

CPJ calls the steps “pure harassment and it needs to stop” and urged the ministers to drop the charges against Rozina Islam and return her documents and devices immediately. “The government of Bangladesh should not be creating obstacles for journalists who are merely doing their jobs.”

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