A Bangladeshi businessman who was incorrectly alleged by police and the media last year as being linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network is seeking vindication.
Investigators held Islam Mohamed Himu for 43 days but ultimately found he had no links to al-Qaeda.
Himu said that even since being freed, he has struggled to get his life and business back on track. He has filed a complaint of human rights violations with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
“I want to ask senior officials of the government or police: what was my fault?” Himu said in an interview.
“The Japanese police and media have destroyed my life,” said the 34-year-old, who runs a telecommunications company in Tokyo.
“I want them to apologize and restore my life,” he said, urging the government to help him obtain visas to make business trips to several countries that have barred his entry following the allegations.
Himu came to Japan in 1995 with his Japanese wife, whom he had met in Canada. After establishing a firm in Tokyo that mainly sells prepaid international phone cards, he obtained permanent residency in 2000.
Police arrested him last May 26 and issued a fresh warrant June 16. They alleged he had falsified a corporate registration and illegally hired two employees, including his brother.
While in custody, investigators mostly asked if he had any links to al-Qaeda, noting that a Frenchman suspected of being in al-Qaeda bought prepaid phone cards from him several times, according to Himu.
He said he tried to prove he had no connection with terrorists, telling police the Frenchman was one of several hundred customers and he had no idea the man used an alias.
However, police dismissed his claim, he said, and leaked to major media organizations, including Kyodo, their suspicions that he was involved with al-Qaeda, and all of them reported the allegations.
Himu said he believes police arrested him as a scapegoat even though they knew he had no link with al-Qaeda.
He was nabbed shortly after the media reported that the Frenchman had stayed in Japan in 2002 and 2003.
Prosecutors did not indict him on the first charge, while a court fined him 300,000 yen on the second charge. He was released on July 7.
Himu said the prosecutors’ failure to indict proves he was not an al-Qaeda member, but it did not necessarily constitute a public apology.
All his employees left following the release of the sketchy police information, and he now has 120 million yen in debts due to the disruption of his business, he claimed.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.