Interrogating journalists is a threat to independent journalism in the country
The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has expressed deep concern over the incident of interrogating of several journalists for leaking a letter by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner that contains corruption allegations against a senior police officer.
The anti-graft watchdog has marked the interrogation of journalists as a threat to independent journalism in the country, said a press release issued by TIB on Thursday.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "Journalists should not publish the sources of their news, that is the established policy."
"Now, if a journalist is called and questioned as to who provided him with information, no one will dare to reveal future incidents of corruption. It will be considered an obstacle for virtually independent journalism," said the TIB top executive, according to the press release.
He further said, "The policy of pressuring journalists in this way is suicidal, generally against the public interest, and may raise the question of whether a professional force like the police is at all interested in curbing their institutional corruption."
Dr Zaman continued, "The DMP Commissioner has lodged a written complaint of corruption against a senior police officer. Normally, I think this should be the main consideration of the police force now."
But skipping that route, police got busy with how the letter was leaked to the media, he added.
Saying that the police force did not deny the veracity of the letter, the TIB executive director demanded strong and effective action by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the matter.
However, in the letter of the police commissioner, the accused officer has been requested to be transferred only. And in no case could it be considered a punishment for corruption, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
On the contrary, the police are now practically harassing journalists, he further added, as the press release reads.
"The ACC should immediately start an investigation into the allegations of corruption so that appropriate legal action can be taken by identifying the extent of such corruption and those involved in such criminal activities," said Dr Zaman, in the press release.