Journalist Rozina Islam, arrested under the Official Secrets Act on Monday, will get justice, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said on Wednesday.
“I’d request journalists to look at the matter rationally. Since a case has been filed, we’re seeing to it that she (Rozina) gets justice. Have faith in the government. The Prime Minister and I are determined and cordial to protect the honour of journalists,” he said at an event of Journalist Welfare Trust at Chattogram Press Club’s Bangabandhu Hall.
The 42-year-old Prothom Alo senior reporter, known for unearthing corruption, was kept detained at a room in the Secretariat for over five hours before being handed over to police.
She allegedly took photos of documents related to government negotiation to buy Covid-19 vaccine from various sources, according to case documents.
On Tuesday, a Dhaka court sent her to prison after rejecting the police's five-day remand plea. She is scheduled to appear before the court on Thursday.
Rozina Islam rejected the allegations saying, "I was, in fact, harassed at the Secretariat."
Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, raised concerns over the journalist’s arrest. “It’s something that’s concerning,” he said in a regular briefing.
Journalists groups in Bangladesh and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded her release.
Also read: DB to investigate case against Rozina
“We’re deeply alarmed that Bangladesh officials detained a journalist and filed a complaint under a draconian colonial-era law that carries ridiculously harsh penalties,” said Aliya Iftikhar, CPJ’s senior Asia researcher, reports AP.
Minister Mahmud said it is wrong to take away confidential documents.
“Anyone can seek information from the government through the Information Commission but he/she will not get information on a non-disclosure item. Taking such a secret document is wrong,” he said.
The minister said the government would ensure that she gets justice. “If anyone from the Health Ministry was responsible [for the incident], it’ll be unearthed through investigation,” he said.
The health minister has explained what had happened with her, Mahmud said.
He asked why she was detained at the Secretariat for five hours? He said the health ministry has formed a committee to investigate the incident. “It’ll see if anyone had harassed her, what was her crime and if anyone from the ministry had committed any crime,” he said.