Bangladesh court grants bail to jailed photographer

Bangladesh court grants bail to jailed photographer
A small group of people rally in support of Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam outside United Nations headquarters in New York, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. Alam, who was charged with spreading false information after reporting on student protests, has been detained for almost two months. Free press and human rights advocates claim he is being silenced for his criticism of the government. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Dhaka A Bangladeshi court on Thursday granted bail to veteran photojournalist Shahidul Alam, who was arrested in August on charges of spreading anti-government propaganda.

Alam, 63, was arrested on August 5 after he spoke to international broadcaster Al Jazeera about student protests demanding greater road safety in the country and has been in custody ever since.

“The court granted bail to Shahidul Alam without setting any pre-conditions. We are expecting him to be released as soon as the order reaches the jail authorities,” Alam’s lawyer Jotirmoy Barua told Efe news.

Barua said the process to release Alam from prison could take a day or two.

The veteran photographer, whose arrest had sparked outrage in the country and globally, was accused of defaming the government and spreading rumours on social media regarding the student demonstrations.

Alam was arrested under the controversial Information and Communication Technology Act, widely criticized by journalists and human rights organizations, who say the government uses the law to target dissidents.

On September 19, Bangladesh had passed another controversial law — the Digital Security Act — also denounced as a tool for cracking down on freedom of expression.