Bangladesh orders Al Jazeera documentary be scrubbed from web

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The Doha-based broadcaster released the hour-long programme titled All the Prime Minister’s Men in early February detailing allegations that the country’s security forces and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had links to a criminal gang.
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The Doha-based broadcaster released the hour-long programme titled All the Prime Minister’s Men in early February detailing allegations that the country’s security forces and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had links to a criminal gang.

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DHAKA, Feb 18 — A documentary by Al Jazeera that aired explosive claims about Bangladesh’s army chief must be taken down from the internet in the South Asian country, a court ordered yesterday.

The Doha-based broadcaster released the hour-long programme titled All the Prime Minister’s Men in early February detailing allegations that the country’s security forces and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had links to a criminal gang.

The High Court instructed Bangladesh’s telco regulator to “remove or take down Al Jazeera’s documentary... from , Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other digital platforms where it has been shared”, the regulator’s lawyer, Khandaker Reza-e-Raquib, told AFP.

Reza-e-Raquib said the court deemed the documentary was “propaganda against Bangladesh”.

The regulator said in a statement after the court ruling that it would take “appropriate steps to remove the content”.

It is not clear how the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission will remove the programme. It has been posted by Al Jazeera English on its official YouTube channel where it has been viewed more than 6.8 million times.

A spokesman for the regulator said it had already called on Facebook and Twitter to pull down the documentary. There has been no immediate comment from either social media giant about the request.

Al Jazeera English is broadcast by cable television networks in Bangladesh. There has been no court order for the channel to be taken down.

A pro-government group, the Bangabandhu Foundation, has also filed a complaint in court under the country’s sedition laws against Al Jazeera Media Network acting director general Mostefa Souag and several other people featured in the documentary, prosecutor Hemayet Uddin Khan told AFP.

Bangladesh’s foreign ministry has slammed the documentary as a “smear campaign” by the country’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which is banned from contesting elections.

Under Hasina’s government, which has been in power since 2009, five of Jamaat’s senior leaders have been executed over war crimes committed during the country’s liberation struggle in 1971.

The army said the documentary contained “numerous false and fabricated stories”.

A statement released by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, which produced the documentary, said that it “stands a hundred per cent behind the accuracy of its journalism and the brave individuals who were prepared to take a stand against corruption at great personal risk to themselves and their families”.

Supporters of the prime minister last week burnt effigies of David Bergman, a journalist based in London, who was interviewed for the programme. — AFP

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