Bangladesh prevents publication of pro-opposition daily

DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladeshi authorities have prevented the publication of a pro-opposition daily whose editor was arrested last week for sedition and inciting religious tension, an official said on Monday.

Police sealed off the printing press of Amar Desh on Thursday after the arrest of its editor Mahmudur Rahman, but officials have now barred the publication from using the facilities of another pro-opposition daily.

"They don't have any declaration (authorisation) to publish the newspaper from another press," Dhaka district administrator Yusuf Harun told AFP.

Nineteen press workers from Amar Desh were arrested on Saturday and police have filed a case against the editor of the other pro-opposition daily Sangram which offered its printing press, he said.

The arrests follow a nationwide crackdown on the opposition including the detention of more than 200 senior officials of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the entire leadership of the largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

On Thursday, a court in Dhaka remanded Rahman for 13 days in police custody for interrogation after he was accused of sedition and publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension.

The sedition case was related to hacking and the publishing of leaked calls between a judge from the country's controversial war crimes tribunal and an expatriate legal expert.

Rahman, who served as a deputy minister for energy in the cabinet led by opposition BNP leader Khaleda Zia between 2001 and 2006, bought Amar Desh in 2008. He became its acting editor and made it an opposition mouthpiece.

With rising political tensions, strikes and deadly protests, the circulation of Amar Desh has increased six-fold in recent months to more than 200,000 daily and it is now one of the most visited Bangladeshi news websites.

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