Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2013

Bangladesh: 1

Mahmudur Rahman, Amar Desh
Imprisoned: April 11, 2013

Rahman, 60, acting editor and majority owner of the pro-opposition Bengali-language daily Amar Desh, was arrested at his office, according to news reports. Rahman faced charges of publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension in connection with what the government said was highly critical coverage of the Shahbagh movement. The movement calls for the death penalty for Islamist leaders on trial for war crimes.

News reports cited a February 2013 article published in Amar Desh as an example of the daily's critical coverage during heightened political and religious tension. The article, headlined "Bloggers committing contempt of religion and court," criticized self-described atheist bloggers, who helped amplify support for the Shahbagh movement, and called them "enemies of Islam" and their work "vulgar, objectionable propaganda."

Rahman was also charged with sedition and unlawful publication in connection with his paper's publication of reports in December 2012 that questioned the impartiality of a war crimes tribunal set up by the government to investigate mass killings during the war of independence. The paper's reports included leaked Skype conversations of a judge presiding over the tribunal. The controversy led to the judge's resignation.

At his initial hearing, Rahman refused to request bail, news reports said. His trial was pending in late 2013.

Rahman, who served as an energy adviser in the previous opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government, which is aligned with Islamist parties, was previously arrested in June 2010 and spent 10 months in prison for contempt of court in connection with Amar Desh reports that accused the country's courts of bias in favor of the state. The editor was also charged with defamation in connection with his reports on alleged corruption by the son of the prime minister, but those charges were dropped in early 2013, reports said.

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