Melbourne teacher arrested in Bangladesh for spreading propaganda

<pre><pre>Melbourne teacher arrested in Bangladesh for spreading propaganda

His photos have filled the pages of major publications, including Time Magazine and The New York Times, but during the last month, Dr. Shahidul Alam has faced inside a prison cell.

The visiting professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology was arrested last month at the height of student protests calling for better road safety after the death of two students in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka.

The Bangladeshi citizen was photographing the protests and also made comments in an interview with Al Jazeera and on his Facebook page criticizing the government's violent response to the demonstrations.

On Tuesday, a judge in Dhaka denied his request for bail.

Shahidul Alam is an internationally renowned photographer.


Dr. Alam was arrested at his home on August 5 and accused of spreading propaganda under the country's Information and Communication Technology Law.

He later accused the police of assaulting him during his arrest.

RMIT University's photography professor, Alan Hill, worked with Dr. Alam for more than a decade at multiple Australian universities.

"You look around the world and who are the world leaders [in documentary photography] and there really is no one more important than Shahidul Alam, especially in our region, "he told SBS News.

He said he was surprised at his arrest.

A photo of Shahidul Alam.

A photo of Shahidul Alam.


The story of Dr. Alam has provoked a chorus of international criticism, including a letter signed by ten Nobel laureates asking for his release.

Tim O'Connor, campaign director of Amnesty International, told SBS News that the law under which Dr. Alam is being accused is draconian.

"The Bangladeshi government has certainly been using this law to silence peaceful democratic protest, Shahidul Alam is a prisoner of conscience, he has been arrested under this law for expressing his democratic right," he said.

Dr. Alam's colleagues at RMIT University are asking the Australian government to defend his release.