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UK, Italy seek access to scribes

Dhaka, Nov. 27 (Reuters): Britain and Italy have sought consular access to two journalists being held in Dhaka on suspicion of carrying out anti-Bangladesh activities, embassy officials said today.

Briton Zaiba Malik, 35, and Bruno Sorrentino, 40, from Italy, were detained by immigration officials at Bangladesh’s western Benapole border on Monday and later handed over to police.

The two were working on a documentary on terrorism for Britain's Channel 4 and they may be charged with “anti-Bangladesh activities”, officials said yesterday.

“We have sought consular access from the Bangladesh foreign ministry in Dhaka, but there was no reply,” Kristian Sharpless, a spokesman for the British High Commission, said.

Sharpless said he hoped the issue would be solved quickly and amicably.

“We are giving all assistance to our detained national and doing whatever is needed,” an Italian embassy spokeswoman said. She declined to be identified. A Bangladesh government official said: “The request for consular access to the detainees will be granted shortly in line with diplomatic norms.”

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