Bangladesh police have charged a senior opposition official with sedition for allegedly plotting against the state when he met an Israeli government adviser, an official says.
The move comes as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government is stepping up a crackdown on political opponents in the Muslim-majority country, which is reeling from a wave of killings blamed on Islamists.
Aslam Chowdhury, a joint secretary of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), was arrested last week after local media reported he had met an Israeli government adviser in India in March.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman says Chowdhury has been charged with sedition and could face up to three years if convicted.
“We have filed a sedition case against Aslam Chowdhury after we received a greenlight from the home ministry,” Rahman told AFP.
The case was filed hours after the national police chief told reporters that police had “found evidence” that “Chowdhury conspired with an Israeli politician to overthrow (Hasina’s) Awami League-led government.”
Chowdhury, a tycoon from the southern city of Chittagong, has denied plotting against the government and told reporters he met the Israeli adviser during a “personal business trip” to India.
Bangladesh has no diplomatic ties with Israel and Bangladeshis are banned from traveling to the country.
Critics say the arrest was part of a crackdown Hasina’s government has launched against the country’s main opposition parties, which include the BNP and its Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-islami.