Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday (December 14, 2022) said his ministry did not have prior information regarding the US Ambassador's visit to a particular residence where many people gathered outside the gate.
Momen said US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas met him on an emergency basis at his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I told him that it is our responsibility to ensure security for you and your people. I asked him (Haas) whether anybody attacked him or on his people. He replied, no,” the foreign minister told reporters, adding that they will provide the Ambassador additional security if he wants.
Momen said the Ambassador did not inform his ministry beforehand about the visit and wanted to know from the Ambassador how people came to know that he was going there. “We don’t know anything about it," he added.
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The foreign minister also advised the US envoy to look into how the information regarding his visit was leaked, adding that his (Ambassador) people may also do that.
Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Dak, an organisation of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the city on Wednesday morning.
Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who is reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013.
The Ambassador's security escort asked him to leave the place as soon as possible fearing blockade by people there.
“Due to security reasons he left quickly. He is very unhappy with that incident. He is a bit worried,” Momen said.
The US Ambassador and embassy staff ended the meeting due to "security concerns", said a spokesperson at the US Embassy in Dhaka.
"We are raising this matter at the highest levels of the Bangladesh government," he said.
“We cannot bar our journalists from performing their duties. They are very vocal and have the freedom and they run after events,” said the Foreign Minister while responding to a question.
The foreign minister said it is a country of free speech and people convey their messages freely and there is freedom of mobility.
But, he said, people can be arrested as per the law if public and private property are damaged.