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AJCommittee hosts embattled journalist

A Bangladeshi journalist arrested for advocating ties with Israel was honored last week by the American Jewish Committee.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was on a rare visit to the United States when the AJCommittee hosted a lunch in his honor last week at its New York headquarters.

Choudhury, the editor of a weekly English-language newspaper, was imprisoned in 2003 on charges of sedition after he advocated diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Israel. AJCommittee in 2006 presented Choudhury its Moral Courage Award in absentia.

Choudhury described ongoing attempts by radical Islamic elements, supported financially by Saudi Arabia, to tighten their grip on Bangladeshi politics. Besides the tens of thousands of Saudi-financed Islamic schools, the kingdom has financed a television station to combat Western influence, Choudhury said.

Despite the personal risks to himself, Choudhury said he would not think of seeking political asylum in the West.

“Political asylum is not a solution,” he said. “If I don’t go back, Bangladeshis will not raise their voices against the radicals.”

Choudhury remains under risk of imprisonment for sedition. The government says he leaked classified information that endangered state security, a charge Choudhury denies.

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