Rozina Islam, 42, an investigative journalist with the Bangladeshi daily Prothom Alo, has been arrested and charged under the country’s Official Secrets Act, the Guardian . She’s accused of stealing health ministry records related to the purchase of Covid vaccines.
Rozina is known for reporting on corruption and criticising the Sheikh Hasina government’s handling of the pandemic. Her bail application will be heard on Thursday.
According to the Guardian, Rozina’s family claim she suffered physical assault and “mental torture” at the hands of officials while she was detained for five hours in the room of a personal assistant at the health ministry before being moved to a police station in Dhaka.
The Guardian quoted Rozina as saying, “I am being wronged because of reports against the health ministry.”
Prothom Alo says Rozina has been reporting on mismanagement in the health sector and her “have exposed many incidents of corruption”. Owing to her reports, the daily says, the government has taken action against several people involved in corruption and mismanagement in the ministry of health.
Rozina’s colleagues and fellow journalists have and the withdrawal of the case against her. They have also demanded an investigation into her allegation of harassment by government officials.
Update on May 24
Rozina was released on bail on May 23 after surrendering her passport and paying a bail bond of 5,000 taka. According to NDTV, after her release, Rozina said, "I will continue my journalism. I thank everyone including the journalists who stood by me." She was then taken to a hospital for a medical check-up.