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Sunday, 20 January, 2002, 12:14 GMT
Bangladesh journalist freed
Dhaka high court
Sedition charges against Shariar Kabir still stand
By the BBC's Alastair Lawson in Dhaka

The prominent journalist Shariar Kabir has been released on bail from prison in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

Mr Kabir was imprisoned in November after he travelled to India to expose what he said was the plight of Hindu refugees who had fled Bangladesh to escape communal tension.

Mr Kabir emerged after three months in prison to be greeted by friends and family.

They had not been allowed to see him during his time in jail.

'Deliberate delay'

His release comes despite last minute complications - at one point, Mr Kabir's lawyer, Amir ul-Islam warned that it might have to be delayed because the authorities were dragging their feet.

Hindu woman in Bangladesh
Mr Kabir was trying to highlight 'plight' of minorities
He said that they were not speedily implementing a high court order issued on Saturday that Sharir Kabir be immediately given bail.

Mr Kabir still faces sedition charges which carry a life sentence, but a date for his trial has not yet been set.

His lawyers say he had to endure appalling conditions in prison.

Contentious writing

So far, government lawyers have not appealed against Saturday's bail ruling.

But it seems as if they are determined he should be prosecuted for sedition - one of the most serious offences under Bangladeshi law.

Mr Kabir's defence team argues that he has been victimised because he has a long history of attacking the governing Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

He has also been highly critical of what he sees as the Islamic fundamentalism of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, a coalition partner of the government.

The government says that Mr Kabir has violated the constitution of Bangladesh by making derogatory comments about the country during his campaign to highlight what he sees as the plight of its Hindu minority.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Alastair Lawson
"Mr Kabir still faces sedition charges which carry a life sentence"
Shahrier Kabir's lawyer Amir ul Islam
"This is a victory for freedom and truth"
See also:

12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bangladesh scribe arrest 'illegal'
22 Dec 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh alleges 'separatist plot'
01 Dec 01 | South Asia
Questions over Bangladesh detention
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh Hindus 'will not go back'
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