FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 28, 2007
CONTACT: Richard L. Benkin, Ph.D.; +1-847-922-6426;
Despite More Assurances, Bangladeshi Court Continues Discredited Case
Against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Dhaka, Bangladesh-Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
returned to a Dhaka courtroom today. In the weeks leading up to it, the new
government of Bangladesh had given private assurances to individuals and
officials from various governments that it would drop the admittedly false
charges against Mr. Choudhury. It did not. Not only did the court set a
new trial date of July 18th , but more ominously, the new Public Prosecutor
stated his willingness to proceed with this action.
Mr. Choudhury was arrested by agents of the previous government as he was
about to board a plane for a speech in Israel. While the immediate pretext
of the arrest was his violation of Bangladesh's ban on travel to Israel, the
arrest was carried out in cooperation with Islamist forces because of Mr.
Choudhury's open advocacy of relations with Israel, interfaith understanding
based on religious equality, and his articles exposing the rise of radical
Islam in Bangladesh. He was tortured and held for seventeen months and only
released after strong pressure by Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Dr.
Richard L. Benkin, a human rights activist. Although the government
promised to drop the charges as far back as 2005, they have not done so. In
March, the US Congress passed a resolution 409-1, calling on the Bangaldeshi
government to drop the capital charges against Mr. Choudhury.
A mountain of evidence has surfaced confirming that the charges were false,
that the government knew them to be false, and that the government
maintained them only to appease radical Islamists. The new government,
which took over in a January 11 coup, claims to be free of such influence.
Today's court action raises additional doubts about that claim. Shoaib's
friends and supporters promise no let up in their fight on his behalf.
For further information, a translated text of the order, or interviews with
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury or Richard Benkin contact Richard Benkin at the
telephone or email above.