The US Embassy ‘shelter’ drama: Unraveling the hoax


In a rather peculiar turn of events, Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan, a former Deputy Attorney General (DAG) in Bangladesh, along with his wife and three daughters, chose to spend their Friday at the US Embassy in Dhaka’s Baridhara diplomatic area. Their reason? Imran Bhuiyan claimed to have received threats on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, prompting him and his family to seek “shelter” at the embassy.

As many news began to circulate with sensationalism in the Bangladesh, Blitz, a reputable newspaper with 20 years of history, initiated its own investigation. Reporters from Blitz reached out to various sources in Washington DC, including the US Capitol, to gain a better understanding of the situation. Upon hearing about the DAG and his family seeking refuge at the US Embassy, it became evident to us that this was likely nothing more than a ploy orchestrated by the ousted DAG to tarnish the image of Bangladesh, particularly its ruling Awami League.

We placed two questions with the competent authorities and wanted to know – does the US embassy provide shelter to any foreign national? In reply we were told, “No, the US Embassy does not provide shelter to foreign nationals. Embassies and consulates primarily serve as diplomatic missions to represent their home country’s interests in the host country. While they can provide various services to their own citizens, such as assistance during emergencies, issuing visas, and notarizing documents, they do not typically offer shelter or refuge to foreign nationals, except in rare and specific cases related to diplomatic matters or international agreements. Seeking asylum or refuge in a foreign embassy is generally not a recognized or accepted practice”.

Then we asked – has the US Embassy granted shelter to any foreign national anywhere in the world?

The reply was, “The practice of a US Embassy granting shelter or refuge to a foreign national is exceedingly rare and typically occurs in highly unusual circumstances. In such cases, it would likely involve individuals with a direct connection to the United States, such as embassy staff or individuals with a strong and well-founded fear of persecution.

“One well-known example of a US Embassy providing shelter to a foreign national occurred in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis. Several American citizens working at the US Embassy in Tehran were taken hostage by Iranian militants. In response, the Canadian Embassy in Tehran provided shelter to six American diplomats who had managed to escape the embassy during the takeover. The Canadians, with the assistance of the US government, ultimately helped these American diplomats leave Iran.

“However, granting shelter in such circumstances is an exception rather than the rule, and embassies generally do not serve as a refuge for foreign nationals. People seeking asylum or protection typically need to follow established legal processes within the host country or seek assistance through international organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)”.

It should be noted that as a legal officer of the country, Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan was well aware that American embassies worldwide do not provide shelter to foreign nationals. Furthermore, there was scant evidence to suggest any real threats to his life. One may question his motives in seeking refuge at the US Embassy, especially since expressing support for Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus should not lead to any legal repercussions. The only scenario where DAG Imran might have reason to fear legal action is if he had committed crimes, financial or otherwise, during his tenure or engaged in money laundering abroad. So, the question remains: Why did DAG Imran fear legal consequences or arrest when there were no pending cases against him?

DAG Imran spent approximately four and a half hours within the US Embassy compound, continuously insisting that his life was in danger. The question then arises: Who exactly threatened him? Since he claimed the threats came from Facebook and WhatsApp, it should not be overly challenging for the country’s law enforcement agencies to identify the individuals or entities behind these threats.

According to the latest reports, Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan, the sacked Deputy Attorney General who sought refuge at the US Embassy with his family, has now returned to his residence in Lalmatia, Dhaka, under police protection. The government has assured the embassy that there are no plans to arrest him, and embassy officials relayed this information to Imran, ultimately leading to his decision to return home.

Given Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan’s statements, which initially revolved around his fear of arrest but later shifted to assurance from both the government and embassy officials, one must wonder whether this entire episode was nothing more than an attempt to gain media attention through a childish hoax and a cheap publicity stunt. It is crucial that Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan reveals the identity of the party or individual who advised him to engage in this far-fetched drama. Additionally, he should clarify why he feared arrest when there were no charges against him in Bangladesh.

It is our hope that, now that the government has removed Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan from his position, appropriate measures will be taken to safeguard him from any potential threats. In this regard, Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan should cooperate by disclosing details of those who allegedly threatened him on social media. The protection of him and his family is indeed the responsibility of the state.

In summary, the incident involving the US Embassy “shelter” drama appears to be nothing more than a perplexing episode that warrants closer scrutiny and clarification from Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan himself.


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