BNP Leader Charged With Sedition Over Plot to Oust Bangladesh Govt

Anisur Rahman/Dhaka
BNP Leader Charged With Sedition Over Plot to Oust Bangladesh Govt

A senior BNP leader in Bangladesh was today charged with sedition over his alleged involvement in a plot to oust the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government in collusion with Israel following his meeting in India with a top Israeli politician, police said today.

The home ministry has cleared the police to book Aslam Chowdhury, a joint secretary of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on sedition charges over a "plot with Israel," inspector general of police (IGP) AKM Shahidul Hoque said.

A Chittagong-based business tycoon, Chowdhury was arrested last week and a travel ban was enforced on him after media reported his meeting with Israeli government adviser in India in March.

"He tried to create anarchy by making the present government seem unpopular to the leaders of Israel's Likud party. Our initial investigation has found evidence that suggest that," IGP Hoque said.

"We had sought the home ministry's permission to file a sedition case against Aslam Chowdhury. The ministry has sanctioned that," he added.

Chowdhury has denied plotting to overthrow the government, claiming that he met the Israeli adviser during a "personal business trip" to India, while his lawyers claimed that he met some Israeli people at an event he was invited to, but did not had a meeting with them.

Aslam also said he was not aware that Mendi N Safadi, a former advisor to Israeli deputy minister MK Ayoub Karar, was a leader of the Likud Party.

The ruling-Awami League leaders had claimed that the meeting was part of a larger conspiracy to oust Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the help of Israeli spy agency Mossad.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh does not have any diplomatic relations with Israel and Bangladeshis are banned from travelling there. Bangladesh has also voiced concerns over Israeli atrocities in Palestine.

Chowdhury is known to be a trusted lieutenant of BNP's senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman, who is former prime minister Khaleda Zia's son.

Rahman has taken political refuge in the UK to evade a number of graft and criminal cases in which he is being tried in absentia at home.

The BNP is the key opposition party outside parliament as it had boycotted the 2014 general election citing unfair conditions for polls.

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