Internationally acclaimed multi-award winning anti militancy journalist and Co-Editor of South Asian Affair of the Times of Assam and Editor of Bangladeshi newspaper weekly Blitz, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released from the prison after 5 years and 8 months. He was wrongly convicted in two false cases lodged by the ruling party and some looters of the Bangladesh Awami League. Mr. Choudhury was first arrested in 2003 by the previous Islamist coalition government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat E Islami (JEI). At that time, the government brought sedition, treason and blasphemy charges against him. He was branded as an agent of Mossad, the Israeli espionage agency.
In 2005, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released on bail at the intervention of the United States Congress. In 2007, the United States Congress passed a bi-partisan resolution (House Resolution 64/2007) with 406 votes in defense of Mr. Choudhury. In the resolution titled – H.Res.64 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Bangladesh should immediately drop all pending charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Details of the resolution is here: HR-64 (https://www.congress.gov/bill/110th-congress/house-resolution/64).
But, Bangladesh government, instead of showing minimum respect to the resolution, had kept the false charges pending. In 2012, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was re-arrested from his residence, when a fraudulent local company named Prochchhaya Limited got a case lodged by one M Sajjad Hussain with the Dakkhinkhan Police Station in Dhaka. A retired Colonel of Bangladesh Army, Shahid Uddin Khan played key role behind lodging of this case and getting Mr. Choudhury arrested in the odd hours (2:30 am) from his Uttara residence. In this case, M Sajjad Hussain false proclaimed himself as a businessman and claimed that Choudhury has cheated Tk. 6.9 million from him. Later it was revealed that Sajjad does not even has any valid source of income and he though is an American ‘green card’ holder, has been actually under the monthly payroll of Colonel (Retired) Shahid Uddin Khan.
It was also revealed that, Prochchhaya Limited was a sister concern of a fraudulent MLM (Multi Level Marketing) company named Destiny Limited. According to reports published in Dhaka largest Bangla daily the Prothom Alo and another prominent daily Amader Shomoy, Prochchhaya Limited has smuggled out around US$ 800 million to various countries illegally. Prochachhaya Limited had made this quick cash by selling properties with false documents to various individuals and companies. Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) were investigating these allegations. A sources inside ACC told Times of Assam that the investigation was continuing and Colonel (Retired) Shahid Uddin Khan, his wife Farjana Anjum and other members of Prochchhaya Limited would be summoned for interrogation soon. The source said, they already have received several evidences against the allegation of corruption, money laundering and fraud by the Prochchhaya Limited.
Commenting on the convictions of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a senior journalist in Dhaka told this newspaper that in both the cases, courts were heavily influences in convicting Mr. Choudhury by “hook or crook”.
Although Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released from the prison on July 29, 2018, he has been under treatment for these days. In a brief interview to the Times of Assam, he has expressed gratitude to those journalists and rights group around the world who stood by him during his “most difficult days”.
He said, “As I am free from the prolonged imprisonment now, my first priority is to resume publication of my newspaper, Blitz and continue my efforts in defense of Israel. I am calling upon the Bangladesh government, especially Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to immediately lift the travel ban on Israel, confront radical Islamic militancy, discourage anti-Semitism and holocaust denial and extend fullest support to individuals like me, who are promoting interfaith harmony.”
In Dhaka, there is a rumor that Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has been put on house arrest and is barred from meeting people since his release from the prison on July 29, 2018.
Tiku Mollah, an assistant chief prison guard told the Times of Assam that, Mr. Choudhury was not received at the prison by his family members. But, he was received by the members of intelligence agencies and sent to his house under heavy security.
Mollah said, “Hours before the release of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, the entire prison area was taken under the control of various intelligence agencies and Choudhury rode on a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with a smiling face.”
When asked to comment on the rumor and the statement made by Tiku Mollah, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury simply trashed these and said, the government is not against him. It was Colonel (Retired) Shahid Uddin Khan and his cohorts, who spent tons of money and exerted evil influence in keeping him in the prison for such a long time.
He said, “Members of the Trump administration are fully aware of my case and they are keeping eyes on Bangladesh government on this particular issue.”