A Bangladeshi court sentenced the editor of a local newspaper to seven years in prison for his dissenting articles and for trying to visit Israel over a decade ago, despite the fact that he never actually made it to the Jewish state.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who leads the Weekly Blitz newspaper, was convicted of damaging national interests with his writing and for his planned trip to Israel, the AFP news agency reported on Thursday.
The prosecution claimed that Choudhury was scheduled to speak at a Tel Aviv conference in November 2003 on the emergence of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh. The editor was arrested at Dhaka airport before who could board a Dhaka-Bangkok-Tel Aviv flight.
His articles, which have been featured in USA Today, were considered “derogatory” and “seditious” and a besmirching of Bangladesh, the prosecution said.
Bangladesh does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and its citizens are forbidden to visit the country.
According to the report Choudhury was a critic of the 2001-2006 Bangladesh government, which allied itself with Islamists.
Defense lawyer Prokash Ranjan Biswas said the court was “extremely unjust” and that he intended to appeal the decision.
AFP said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and his secular government have been cracking down on opposition media voices, detaining an editor of one paper and closing two Islamist TV channels last year.