A cyber tribunal has framed charges against cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, Samiul alias Zulkarnain Sayer Khan, a principal character in the Al Jazeera documentary, "All the Prime Minister's Men", and five others, charged for an anti-government post on Facebook.
On Sunday, Dhaka Cyber Tribunal judge Assam Jaglul Hossain set 7 April for taking testimony of prosecution witnesses in the case lodged under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
The five others accused are Swedish-Bangladeshi journalist, Netra News Editor Tasneem Khalil, bloggers Ashiq Mohammad Imran and Muhammad Wahid Un Nabi, Didarul Islam Bhuiyan, an activist of a platform called "Rastrachinta", and Minhaz Mannan Emon, a former director of the Dhaka Stock Exchange.
Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore is out on bail. However, he did not attend the charge framing hearing and the court has scrapped his bail, issuing an arrest warrant.
Didarul Alam and Minhaz Mannan appeared in court, pleaded not guilty, and sought justice from the tribunal. The four others accused are on the run.
Another accused, writer Mushtaq Ahmed, was dropped from the charge sheet after his death in Kashimpur jail, in May last year.
In June 2021, Afshar Ahmed, a sub-inspector for the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC), and the case investigation officer, filed the charges against the seven accused.
In May 2020, Md Abu Bakar Siddique, a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB-3) warrant officer, filed a case against 11 people under the Digital Security Act, with Ramna Police Station.
According to the case statement, the defendants made various posts on a Facebook page called "I am Bangladeshi", including purported propaganda and rumours aimed at tarnishing the image and reputation of the state, spreading misleading information.
The accused, in collaboration, ran the Facebook page for a long time.
The case statement said there was evidence of Kishore, Tasneem, Zulkarnain, Alam, and Asif, engaging in "conspiratorial chatting against the state."
The statement claimed to have evidence of confusion being created among the people with anti-state posts, and spreading rumours with cartoons of various leaders of the ruling party.
The case statement claimed to have proof of anti-state conspiratorial chatting by Tasneem, Sayer, Alam, and Asif on their WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger posts.