Where is the Prime Minister in Al Jazeera’s “All the Prime Minister’s Men”?

Published : 12 Feb 2021 10:59 PM | Updated : 13 Feb 2021 01:29 AM

M Azhar Uddin Bhuiyan and  Saurov Dash Roni

(Continued from last day’s section)

Al-Jazeera showed (00:44:00) in the voice of Mr. Sami that a group of four DGFI officials came to visit Hungary, whom Mr. Sami did not know previously. Mr. Sami invited them for dinner. These unknown persons informed him that they will bring three more guests. According to Al-Jazeera, amongst these three, two were Israeli intelligence officers and one was Irish national. Al-Jazeera does not present any proof for such claims and immediately says that the two Israelis decided not to attend the dinner. Later they showed a photo but there are Israeli officials whom they cannot identify. 

Mr. Sami narrates that the Irish man was a contractor for some surveillance equipment company as he heard them discussing purchasing some spyware and claims that he recorded the video but that clip shows no one’s face and a voice is heard who narrates the scope of the spy machinery. 

But we cannot be certain whose voice it was. Mr. Sami did not reveal the names of the DGFI officials present in that meeting, did not show their face and did not identify any Israeli in the meeting. How realistic is it that officials of military intelligence will discuss procurement of spyware in front of someone whom they met for the first time? Again the telephone conversations Mr. Sami recorded does not disclose with whom Mr. Haris was communicating and whether his ‘orders’ were actually put into action. Moreover, any reasonable person in the commercial world knows about the existence of a non-disclosure clause even in regular business contracts.  

This is not the first time that Al Jazeera has slipped from its ethical 

position while reporting on Bangladesh. Previously, Al-Jazeera 

branded war-criminals  as opposition leaders 

On the other hand, the ISPR rejoinder strongly rejected the claim of procurement of any Mobile Interceptor Device from Israel. Even the contract deed that Al-Jazeera shows the place of manufacture of the equipment is Hungary. ISPR went further to clarify that the equipment was procured from Hungary to be deployed in the UN Peacekeeping Mission. Even if the claim of Al-Jazeera is true, it is an open secret that Israel itself regularly changes the country of origin of its exports so as to avoid trade embargoes. In addition, lack of diplomatic recognition does not mean a country cannot trade with a private party there. For example, Bangladesh does not diplomatically recognize Taiwan but the volume of business between Bangladesh and Taiwan is noteworthy.

In addition, it is also not clear whether Mr. Haris actually had access to these surveillance materials. Throughout the video, Mr. Haris, according to Al-Jazeera itself who is a psychopath, keeps self-bragging like he runs the entire Bangladesh. He is a convict by the court and there is no reason to believe whatever he has to say. From the Al-Jazeera provided clip, it seems that he got information about one of his rivals by bribing the opponent’s girlfriend and not by using the technology.

Where is Al-Jazeera’s Journalistic Ethics?

Sami (fictitious name), a Bangladeshi born Hungarian citizen served as the main narrator and investigator carrying spy cam to capture all the boastful dialogues of Mr. Haris. During these short videos, it is not clear with whom Mr. Haris was speaking over the phone or whether they were really any official in charge. The report has not answered these questions, nor has it shown any evidence except for a proposal letter to sell furniture stuff to BGB, and yet made connotations that the Bangladeshi officials were swayed by Mr. Haris; like mafias do in movies. Many of the documents and information seemed not accurate, and least of all the jaw-dropping email-threat from the Bangladeshi top general as only some typed sentences with fancy letters were shown without showing at least the screenshot of the original email or revealing the email id of General Aziz. Such strong accusations without a shred of evidence decisively renders the quintessential predetermined unethical journalism at its best.

This is not the first time that Al Jazeera has slipped from its ethical position while reporting on Bangladesh. Previously, Al-Jazeera has branded war-criminals as opposition leaders, and facilitated a convicted genocidal mastermind invited alone and given stage to explain his part of the story without interruptions from the concerned.

Investigation or Predetermined Conclusion?

After watching the whole report in a single sitting, any reasonable person would find the headline so misleading, with the indication of PM’s direct involvement from the headline but no substantial or even remote linking to her with the Mr. Haris and Mr. Josep, except for the ignorantly presumed bodyguard part, in the actual video. Now that foreign Minister has re-joined with the information that PM Sheikh Hasina has never had any non-official bodyguard, and that Al Jazeera failed to show any other documents except for a torn out black and white picture of Mr. Haris behind her, many might be inclined not to buy this bodyguard story. We conclude with a question to Al-Jazeera: where is the Prime Minister in your "All the Prime Minister's Men'?.


Md Azhar Uddin Bhuiyan teaches law at the Dhaka International University, Bangladesh. 

Saurov Dash Roni is a  freelance journalist.