A reporter for the respected English language newspaper The Daily Star, Tasneem Khalil also worked on projects for Human Rights Watch and was CNN’s news representative in Bangladesh. On May 11, 2007, the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) arrested Khalil, apparently for his outspoken criticism of the military’s role in extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses. Khalil had also publicly expressed concern through his blog and in newspaper interviews ((Washington Post » Bangladesh Military Accused of Stalling on Elections)) that the military was using the interim government as a cover for de facto army rule ((hrw.org » A Midnight Arrest, 22 Hours of Torture: The Case of Tasneem Khalil)).
Four men in plainclothes who identified themselves as from the “joint task force”came to the door after midnight on May 11 in Dhaka, demanding to take Khalil away. They said they were placing Khalil “under arrest” and taking him to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka ((Unheard Voices » Tasneem Khalil picked up by army)).
Khalil was blindfolded and taken at gunpoint from his home in front of his wife and infant child. He was beaten and threatened during the ordeal ((CNN.com » Torture victim exposes Bangladesh abuses)), then brought to a cell, where he was brutally tortured. Khalil later said he was questioned about stories he had reported on, his connections with Human Rights Watch and links to foreign diplomats. Also he was forced to write a confession and then beg for mercy, before he was released after 22 hours ((Reuters » Bangladeshi tells of 22 hours of torture)). According to Human Rights Watch, Tasneem Khalil was released after “tremendous international and national pressure” ((hrw.org » Bangladesh: Tortured Journalist Describes Surviving Military Beatings)). He then went into hiding with his wife and daughter for a month, before he was able to seek political asylum in Sweden, where Khalil today works as a consultant for Human Rights Watch ((Reuters » Bangladeshi tells of 22 hours of torture)).