Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tribunal bans 'any report' on hacked conversations

The logo of the newspaper
Amar Desh
The International Crimes Tribunal this afternoon banned 'any transcript, report and article' relating to the conversations between former chairman of the tribunal, Nizamul Huq (recently resigned) and the Belgian based Bangladeshi origin academic Ziauddin Ahmed.

This order followed an application made by the prosecutor Rana Das Gupta in Tribunal 2 (The defense counsel present was Advocate Farid.)
Prosecutor: My lord I want to present a submission on behalf of Chief Prosecutor, may I?
Justice: Yes.

Prosecutor: Firstly I want to refer section 11 (4) of ICT Act by which Tribunal can punish anyone who obstruct in tribunal proceeding in any way. We have noticed that last three or four days Daily Amardesh and Daily Sangram are publishing Skype conversation held between Ex-chairman of ICT BD-1 Nizamula Haque Nasim and Ahmed Zia Uddin. I think this is a crime to hack anyone’s Skype account. By publishing those personal matters I think these two newspaper s violate the rights of privacy, personal secrecy and personal security.

We think they are publishing those mala-fide intention to obstruct in tribunal proceeding and for serving special purpose. So we are humbly praying to take steps against Editor and Publisher of Daily Amardesh and Sangram and pass a order to stop publishing those from just now.

Justice Obaidul Hassan: Defense Counsel, have you something to say?

Defense: No, My Lord.

Justice Obaidul Hassan: We were not ready about this matter, so we need 10 minutes time to decide about this matter.
Obaidul Hassan, the new chairman of the tribunal then passed the following order (This is a detailed note of it, but there may be some inaccuracies. The written order is not available.)
We have read main point of today’s skype conversation published in Daily Amardesh and Sangram. After reading we have felt that it is important to give an order about this matter for protecting dignity of Tribunal.

Prosecutor Rana Das Gupta has presented a matter which Tribual have taken cognizance. Over the last some days daily Amardesh and Sangram have published Skype conversation of cx-chairman of ICT BD-1 Nizamul Haque Nasim. We think this Skype conversations are creating wrong perception about Tribunal and its proceeding in the mind of people. To publish private conversation is an offence itself. We think those conversations will obstruct smooth functioning of the Tribunal and hamper the dignity of the Tribunal. So for protecting the dignity of Tribunal and its smooth functioning, all Newspapers specially including Daily Amardesh and Sangram, electronic medias and online newspaper are required, not to publish skype conversation between ex-chairman of ICT BD-1 Justice Nizamul Haque and Ahmed Ziauddin and any transcript, report and article about this conversation, from right now.

Two copies of this order will be supplied by register to Editor of Daily Amardesh and Sangram and also another copy to department of B.T.R.C.
This seems to be a very wide order indeed, preventing the publication of not not only the transcript of the conversations but also any 'report and article about this conversation'. This appears to prevent any report analysing the conversation.

This would also appear to be a completely unenforceable order - since people are commenting about this on facebook, twitter and elsewhere. The documents are also now available on a number of websites which people can access through simple google searching.

It is completely right that the personal aspects of the skype conversations should not be published, and an order relating to these is perfectly appropriate - but some of the material is very significant and publication seems to be very much in the public interest.

Interestingly, the order does not seem to apply to the hacked e-mail conversations - although apparently the prosecutor has told journalists that it does.

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