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BD rights activist arrested

May 12, 2007

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DHAKA, May 11: Security forces in Bangladesh have arrested a journalist and human rights worker who has been critical of the emergency-ruled country's military-backed government, his wife said on Friday.

Tasneem Khalil -- who writes for Dhaka's Daily Star newspaper, works as a stringer for CNN and as a consultant for the US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch -- was picked up by plain-clothes officers overnight on Thursday.

His passport, office equipment and papers were also seized, his wife Sharmin Afsana Suchi said.

“When he asked the officers whether they have any arrest warrant, they said they did not need any. They said it was emergency time and they can arrest anyone they want,” she said.

“They used abusive language and searched the whole house before taking him away. Since then we don't know where he has been taken.” Khalil is also a prolific blogger, whose site -- Tasneemkhalil.com -- has been critical of the country's interim government since it took over in January after the president declared a state of emergency and cancelled polls.

In a statement, Human Rights Watch demanded Khalil's immediate release.

“We are extremely concerned about Tasneem Khalil's safety,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of the group. “He has been a prominent voice in Bangladesh for human rights and the rule of law, and has been threatened because of that.” “The Bangladeshi military should be on notice that its actions are being closely watched by the outside world,” Adams said.—AFP