Amnesty International has called upon the government to maintain restraint and drop all charges against Manab Zamin editor-in-chief and 31 others under the Digital Security Act 2018.
The case was filed by Saifuzzaman Shikhor, ruling party member of parliament from magura-1, against the editor-in-chief of the Bengali daily for it published "false news on and circulating it on social media".
Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International, said the case is a glaring example of how the law is being arbitrarily used against people by influential quarters and state agencies, including police.
"We are alarmed by the vague and overly-broad provisions within the Digital Security Act and the rigorous punishment that they entail for legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression," Saad added.
Saad also added Bangladesh must decriminalise defamation and review the legislation so that it is in compliance with international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bangladesh is a state party.
According to Amnesty International, nearly 400 cases have been filed under the Digital Security Act at the cybercrimes tribunal in the first 11 months since the legislation has been passed at the Bangladesh parliament in October 2018.
According to media reports, more than 200 cases have been dismissed for lacking sufficient evidence.