A court in Bangladesh has granted bail to Shahidul Alam, an award-winning photographer who was arrested after he gave media interviews about student protests that gripped the country, his lawyer has told Al Jazeera.
Alam’s lawyer said that since the next two days are the weekend, we hope to get him released by Sunday.
“Since the bail was granted by the High Court, we will acquire the certified copy of the order and go to the lower court to obtain release order,” Sara Hossain told Al Jazeera.
The 63-year-old was arrested in August on suspicion of spreading “propaganda and false information” during widespread student protests shortly after he gave an interview to Al Jazeera.
The protests, he said, were the result of pent-up anger at corruption and an “unelected government … clinging on by brute force,” – accusations the government has dismissed.
The renowned photographer’s wife said the decision has “helped restore her faith in the country’s judiciary”.
“I hope journalists, photographers and academics will launch a united struggle for repealing undemocratic provisions of Digital Security Act [which has replaced the one under which Alam was jailed],” Rahnuma Ahmed said.
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN America’s Free Expression at Risk Programs, said the organisation is “relieved that after 102 days in detention and several unsuccessful attempts to secure bail while the case filed against him is under investigation, Shahidul Alam has finally been granted bail.
“We now call on Bangladeshi authorities to ensure his prompt release, and for the charges to be dropped altogether.”
Attorney General Mahbub-E-Alam said that he will challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government – since her Awami League party came to power in 2009 – has been marked by allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and secret detentions of members of the political opposition and anti-government activists.
Last year, at least 25 journalists and hundreds of bloggers and Facebook users were prosecuted under the country’s ICT Act after their online content was deemed defamatory or blasphemous.
Additional reporting by Faisal Mahmud from Cox’s Bazar.