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Athas on fact - finding team to probe state of media in Bangladesh

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a prestigious media watchdog body in the US, has invited award-winning Sri Lankan journalist Iqbal Athas to join an international fact-finding team to investigate the state of the Media in Bangladesh.

Athas, Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent of the Sunday Times, will be part of a four member CPJ delegation on a weeklong tour of Bangladesh.

Athas, who is a member of the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), won CPJ's International Press Freedom Award in 1994.

The delegation, led by Ann Cooper, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, will also include Andreas Harsono, Managing Editor of the monthly Pantau from Indonesia and Abi Wright, CPJ asia Program Coordinator.

Wright said the CPJ mission will focus on issues relating to the defence of journalists throughout Bangladesh.

"In our meetings with journalists and activists, we will hear firsthand about the challenges they face, try to learn more about local efforts to secure journalists' safety, and offer solidarity from the international journalism and NGO communities," she added.

The team will meet with government officials from both the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the opposition Awami League party.

"We plan to present compelling arguments in the defence of press freedom, and to provide officials with a list of specific cases for their attention. In addition, we will attempt to secure a pledge of action in the support of a free and safe media from officials," Wright added.

The team will hold a press conference to discuss the findings of the trip on March 5 at the Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel in Dhaka.

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