Bangladesh threatens legal action against Al Jazeera over explosive documentary

The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh has said his government is considering taking legal action against Al Jazeera for “spreading misinformation” through broadcasting its recent “false and fabricated” report against the nation.

Dr AK Abdul Momen said “All the Prime Minister’s Men” was politically-motivated, untrue and biased.

The documentary alleged that a criminal gang is colluding with Bangladesh’s security forces and profiting from links to Prime Mnister Sheikh Hasina.

It also revealed that Bangladesh bought mass spying equipment from an Israeli company, despite Dhaka not recognising Israel.

“We’ll try to take legal steps. We’ll look into that. We can take legal action where misinformation is provided. Let’s see,” Dr Momen told reporters at his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had never appointed anybody as her bodyguard when she was an opposition leader, in reference to the “chief gangster” profiled in the programme.

He said if someone is seen behind Sheikh Hasina nobody can say he is her bodyguard. “Even during the August grenade attacks on her, leaders and party men protected her, not any bodyguard. It has lost its credibility for airing false news. It’s very sad indeed,” Dr Momen said, adding that it is very regrettable that Al Jazeera did such a report and they should apologise for this.

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The Foreign Minister said many cannot accept the rapid development of Bangladesh and that even during the COVID-19 crisis Bangladesh performed very well economically. “They don’t like Bangladesh’s achievements. This is jealousy,” he said.

Asked whether Bangladesh will shut down the channel for Bangladeshi viewers, Dr Momen said they have no such a plan as the “world is open.”

Earlier, the government rejected what not called the desperate “smear campaign” instigated by extremists and their allies working from London and elsewhere through the Al Jazeera report.

“[The] report is nothing more than a misleading series of innuendos and insinuations in what is apparently a politically motivated ‘smear campaign’ by notorious individuals associated with the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami extremist group, which has been opposing the progressive and secular principles of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh since its very birth as an independent nation in 1971,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said on Wednesday that the documentary was not information-based and was the manifestation of an “anti-national conspiracy”.

And Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said: “Al Jazeera’s report against the Sheikh Hasina government is politically-motivated, untrue and biased. It is one-sided, fabricated and clearly a propaganda.”

The documentary, which has been viewed over three million times on YouTube, alleged that a criminal gang is colluding with Bangladesh’s security forces to extract bribes for state contracts and job positions, all the while maintaining powerful links with the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

All the Prime Minister’s Men revealed how Haris and Anis Ahmed, both convicted of murder, are being protected by their brother, a high-ranking military officer, after they fled abroad to escape law enforcement.

Their brother is General Aziz Ahmed, head of the Bangladesh Army and close confidant of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, leader of the ruling Awami League.

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