Former Bangladeshi Leader Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges.

Zia, 72, accepted the verdict on Thursday in a court in the capital Dhaka. He was found guilty of embezzling $ 250,000 from a trust fund reserved for an orphanage during his tenure as prime minister from 2001 to 2006.

Zia's son Tarique Rahman and four others found guilty in the case were sentenced to 10 years in jail for their involvement in the crime. Zia's son lives in exile in London.

The verdict forbade Zia, the head of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to run for national elections set for December. His lawyers denounced the case as politically motivated.

Thousands of Zia supporters took to the streets of Dhaka ahead of Thursday's hearing and followed a motorcade that brought Zia to court, despite riot police deployed in

Bangladesh's political stage for decades is dominated by fierce competition between Zia and current prime minister Sheikh Hasina. [uh]

Bangladeshi Reporters Protest the Digital Security Bill

Hundreds of Bangladeshi journalists on Thursday (1/2) took to the streets against a new digital security bill that activists say would undermine media freedom in the country.

The 2018 Digital Security Act by the cabinet this week means that a journalist could be charged with spying for entering a government office and secretly collecting information using electronic devices, a violation of a 14-year prison sentence.

The Act can also impose life sentences for spreading "negative propaganda" about the independence war or the country's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, using digital devices.

Media organizations including the International Federation of Journalists International Federation of Journalists – IFJ – denounced the law , which has not been approved by parliament.

"IFJ believes, the draft law ng it gives more reason to misuse the provision in order to harass journalists and limit freedom of expression, "said the Brussels-based organization, Belgium,

" The law will also strengthen law enforcement to seek or arrest anyone without a letter a court order if a police officer believes the violation of the law has been or is happening. "

Around 200 Bangladeshi journalists gathered in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday, demanding the government cancel the bill.

parliament, the cruel laws will not only curb investigative journalism, but also all kinds of news, "said M. Abdullah, general secretary of the Federal Union of Journalists.

A number of journalists also posted a photo of themselves on Facebook holding a placard bearing the words" I am a spy "to protest the spy clause in the bill.

Television journalist The Maitraya district participated in protests. He said most of his duties would be considered a criminal offense under the law.

"I want to continue working as a journalist, so I declare myself to be a spy based on the law," he said in a post beside his photograph being uploaded to social media site, Facebook. [ka/ii]