Viewing cable 07DHAKA909
Title: DAILY STAR JOURNALIST'S PASSPORT RETURNED

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07DHAKA9092007-06-05 08:20:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dhaka
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R 050820Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4221
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0332
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 7956
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0698
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1722
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9122
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 9937
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1682
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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
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C O N F I D E N T I A L DHAKA 000909 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KGOV BG
SUBJECT: DAILY STAR JOURNALIST'S PASSPORT RETURNED 
 
Classified By: A/DCM DCMcCullough, reason 1.4(d) 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. On May 11, Daily Star journalist and Human 
Rights Watch (HRW) researcher Tasnim Khalil was detained by 
Directorate General Forces Intelligence (DGFI) for 
questioning about alleged anti-state activities, including 
blog entries and articles he wrote critical of the 
government. Since his release on May 13, Khalil has been in 
hiding with his family while his editor and diplomats have 
tried to facilitate the release of his passport.  After 
receiving his passport from DGFI on June 5, Khalil is now 
preparing to leave the country.  END SUMMARY. 
 
ARRESTED, BEATEN, ACCUSED OF SEDITION 
===================================== 
 
¶2. (C) Tasneem Khalil, a 26-year old Bangladeshi who works as 
a Daily Star journalist, Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher 
and occasional CNN stringer, was taken from his home on May 
11 by officers from the Directorate General-Forces 
Intelligence, the military intelligence agency.  According to 
Khalil, during his 36 hours in DGFI detention, he was 
interrogated about "anti-state" articles he has written and 
was accused of being an Indian spy.  He was released on May 
13 after having been severely beaten and forced to "confess" 
to a variety of crimes on camera. He was badly shaken by the 
experience, and went into hiding with his family out of fear 
he would be picked up again. 
 
INCREASING PRESSURE ON JOURNALISTS 
================================== 
 
¶3. (C) Khalil had been worried about being arrested for some 
time.  In April, POLOFF met twice with Khalil and his Human 
Rights Watch colleagues to discuss threats against him and 
Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam by DGFI.  On April 30, Khalil 
met with diplomats from the US, UK, Australia and Canada and 
described the pressure DGFI was putting on journalists during 
the state of emergency.  Khalil claimed DGFI forced the Daily 
Star to retract its April magazine insert because of an 
article he had authored in it critical of the government.  He 
also described constant phone calls from DGFI "handlers." 
When he and several colleagues from the paper were summoned 
to DGFI in April, his editor went instead, saying anything 
published by the paper was ultimately his responsibility. 
 
DIPLOMATIC INTERVENTION, COORDINATION 
===================================== 
 
¶4. (C) After his release from DGFI custody, Khalil, his wife, 
and their six-month-old son went into hiding.  Two part-time 
HRW researchers (both the spouses of diplomats in Dhaka) met 
with Embassy officers on May 14 to describe what happened and 
request assistance in getting back Khalil's passport.  The 
HRW researchers were reluctant to approach the government 
directly, opting instead to work through a few key embassies. 
 They also expressed concern that if the case became more 
high-profile, it might further jeopardize Khalil. 
 
¶5. (C) The Ambassador raised the issue with Foreign Adviser 
Iftekhar Chowdhury, DGFI Counterterrorism Director Brigadier 
ATM Amin (who Khalil asserts was present during portions of 
his interrogation), and the Press Advisor to Chief Advisor 
Fakhruddin Ahmed.  The British, Australians, and Canadians 
also raised the issue.  We also contacted Daily Star editor 
Anam and encouraged him to approach DGFI regarding the 
passport. In subsequent meetings with the HRW researchers, 
they expressed concern over Khalil's safety, and said they 
were concerned that even if he were given back his passport 
he might not be allowed to leave the country and could have 
charges filed against him. 
 
6 (C) On May 30, Khalil and his family were moved to another 
location after his hosts became alarmed at a perceived 
increase in police presence around the house.  The next day, 
Embassy raised the issue of the passport with DGFI again, as 
did the Australians.  At the same time, the Canadian High 
Commissioner contacted Anam and again urged him to make an 
overture to DGFI. 
 
PASSPORT RETURNED, KHALIL FREE TO LEAVE 
======================================= 
 
¶7. (C) According to HRW, Anam organized a meeting between 
himself, Brigadier General Amin and Khalil at his home on 
June 4.  Khalil was given back his passport, and told he was 
free to depart the country.  HRW told POLOFF that Khalil has 
not yet decided what he will do, but they expect him to leave 
the country with his family very soon.  HRW said the 
organization has offered to bring him to India temporarily 
and employ him there until he felt comfortable returning to 
Bangladesh. 
PAIGE