Bangladesh: Blogger unjustly detained despite bail

Selim Khan is a 19-year-old atheist blogger from Bangladesh. He joined a private Facebook group for like-minded individuals to express his views privately. Unfortunately, another member photographed one of his comments and shared it publicly, leading to public agitation. Consequently, a ruling party member filed a case against Selim under the newly enacted Cyber Security Act and the Penal Code.

Selim was arrested on November 4, 2023, and repeatedly denied bail, despite these being bailable offenses. Although he was finally granted bail on March 13, 2024, he remains in jail due to procedural delays. Selim must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the Prime Minister urging him to:

  • Drop all charges against Selim Khan and release him immediately and unconditionally. His charges stem solely from his peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and belief.
  • Amend the Cyber Security Act to align with international human rights laws and standards.
  • Immediately and unconditionally release all individuals detained under the Cyber Security Act and the repealed Digital Security Act for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Write to:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister’s Office

Old Sangsad Bhaban

Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215



Salutation: Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,

And copy:

Mr. Hossne Ayub Dewan

Deputy High Commissioner/Acting High Commissioner

High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

350 Sparks Street, Suite 1100

Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8

Tel: (613) 236-0138 / 236-0139 Fax: (613) 567-3213


Selim Khan’s case

Selim Khan, a 19-year-old atheist blogger from a village in southwest Bangladesh, lives in a predominantly Muslim country. He uses his blog to express critical views on religion, and people in his village know him as an atheist critical of Islam. According to Selim’s lawyer, someone joined Selim’s private Facebook group specifically to take screenshots of his posts and target him.

A politician who had previously warned Selim against posting such views saw the screenshots and filed a complaint. This led to an angry mob gathering outside Selim’s house, but he had already left for safety, and the police later dispersed the crowd. The police also accused Selim of using his blog to express critical views on religion.

Background and broader context

The Cyber Security Act (CSA), introduced by the government in September 2023 to replace the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA), retains many repressive features of its predecessor. Despite claims that the CSA aligns more closely with human rights—removing prison sentences for defamation and increasing the number of bailable offenses—it continues to silence critical voices.

Bangladesh has a history of targeting atheist bloggers for freely expressing their views. In 2015, atheist bloggers Avijit Roy and Washiqur Rahman were killed in Dhaka, sparking persecution of atheist bloggers and their families. This led many to flee the country to avoid reprisals.

Please take action as soon as possible until August 5, 2024! The UA will be duly updated should there be the need for further action.