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Government and PoliticsDhaka Gate: Allegations of Election Manupulation by Bangladesh Minister Shahriar Alam

Dhaka Gate: Allegations of Election Manupulation by Bangladesh Minister Shahriar Alam

• 'Unveiling the web of political machinations, potential diplomatic fallout, and the compromise of democratic norms
• New Visa Restrictions May Be Announced Amid Fears of Election Manipulation, Corruption, and Deceptive Journalism Followd By International Sanctions

On May 24, 2023, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of Foreign Affairs, expressed concern over human rights violations in Bangladesh and introduced a new visa policy in response. This policy aims to restrict US access for those with prominent political affiliations in the country, intending to ensure the execution of free and fair elections in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, confirmed her government’s commitment to preserving democracy in this South Asian nation, promising to do whatever necessary to guarantee a free and fair election. It remains to be seen whether these pledges are upheld, or if they merely serve as a smokescreen for the Biden Administration and global democratic entities.

Earlier this year, a Bangladeshi diplomat engaged with an enigmatic individual who claimed he could extricate Bangladesh from the visa restrictions imposed by the United States. However, they seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the European Union shares similar concerns regarding human rights violations and the need for a free and fair election in Bangladesh.

The Diplomacy of Election Manipulation

Inside a lavish hotel in Brussels, a pivotal meeting unfolds between Shahriar Alam, a Bangladeshi diplomat and junior minister for foreign affairs, and a purported “neutral” election observer. The observer’s assignment: to travel to Bangladesh, issue a clean bill of health for the forthcoming general election, propagate narratives favoring the ruling party, and coordinate bribes to European Union politicians from the Bangladeshi government. This scenario might not mirror Qatar Gate, but this severe instance of political corruption merits its own moniker—Dhaka Gate. As the Bangladeshi diplomat conversed, the observer, Nick Powell, found his gaze drawn to a leather case laden with alleged bribe money.


Nick Powell, the proprietor of the blog “EU Reporter”, is a self-proclaimed lobbyist with supposed connections to many European Union ministers and MPs. Powell also professed to have an illustrious past with major news outlets and newspapers, though corroborative evidence of these affiliations remains elusive.

Powell’s “EU Reporter” has a checkered history, marked by allegations of tax evasion both in the UK and the European Union. To sidestep fiscal responsibility, they purportedly transfer ownership every two to three years, promptly dissolving the preceding entity in a clear attempt to evade taxation.

This controversial blog, which asserts itself as one of the most influential news platforms, audaciously draws parallels with esteemed publications like BBE, The Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. The ‘about us’ page of this news blog paints a grandiose picture, leading the reader to believe it’s a significant entity. However, the ethos behind a blog lies in its vision, and without a noble one, it remains just that—a blog.

For the Right Price, Anything Goes

The “EU Reporter” blog is propped up by individuals who are self-proclaimed, questionable, and narcissistic in nature. These figures have never graced a legitimate international forum, nor have they featured on any reputable news channel or network. Our preceding report shed light on the deceptive practices of the “EU Reporter”, highlighting the instance of the alleged criminal fraudster Kerry Adler. Upon receiving a sum of money, the “EU Reporter” promptly removed a previous report—evidence of which we have presented in our comprehensive exposé—and published a public endorsement in its stead.

Archival screenshot depicting the now-vanished investigative report on Kerry Adler, an instance highlighting the alleged monetary-influenced operations of the EU Reporter website
Archival screenshot depicting the now-vanished investigative report on Kerry Adler, an instance highlighting the alleged monetary-influenced operations of the EU Reporter website

Following is the removed article:

Kerry Adler's removed article
Kerry Adler’s removed article on EU Reporter blog

While they asserted that the article was removed due to legal implications, the underlying motivation seems quite straightforward – monetary compensation. The pecuniary gain from this action appears to be the sole incentive for the removal of the piece.

The “EU Reporter” blog states, “EU Reporter rates at 8%, equal to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and ahead of the Guardian Online (6%) as the online news provider of choice among MEPs, EU Institutions staff and Brussels decision-makers and opinion-formers.”

Further, on the ‘About us’ page of “EU Reporter” blog it states, “EU Reporter stories, features and videos are syndicated to over 5,000 news outlets worldwide via Google News, PR Newswire (example story) and via the People’s Daily of China, as a result of our partnership agreement. This provides a potential audience of over 3 billion people (almost half the world population).”

Bangladesh’s Welcome for “Election Observers”

Fast forward to July 2023, and we find Nick Powell in Bangladesh, self-identifying as an “international election observer”. Despite the Bangladesh Election Commission’s stringent insistence on observer impartiality, Powell remains silent about the mysterious leather bag he received a mere three months prior from the Bangladeshi Junior Minister. It seems Powell has pledged allegiance to assist the Bangladesh government in facilitating a skewed election, a commitment sweetened by a reward of 3 million US dollars. Such a sum could keep a shadowy news blog like the ‘EU Reporter’ afloat for many years.

Indeed, Bangladesh has turned into a lucrative cash cow for the entire ‘EU Reporter’ team. By exploiting this source, they stand to amass substantial wealth and foster a network of connections with several European Union leaders, including MPs and Ministers, using the promise of bribery as a conduit for influence.

The Resurgence of Fabricated “Election Observers”

The stage is set for the return of Nick Powell and his dubious partners in observation, siblings Tania Dawn Foster and Chally Foster. Their credibility was compromised by the media scrutiny over their roles in the 2018 general elections in Bangladesh.

These self-styled “International Election Observers” are accorded high levels of respect. Lodged in a five-star hotel in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, they are granted unfettered access to all the facilities and amenities. They essentially have the keys to the city, with a seemingly unlimited degree of privilege and freedom at their disposal.

Under the auspices of powerful figures within Bangladesh, the local media offered substantial publicity to these “observers”. However, the wave of publicity was short-lived as reports began to surface, questioning their role in the preceding general election in Bangladesh and casting doubts on their authenticity as “International Election Observers”.

Another contentious figure on the scene is the Bangladeshi Islamist influencer Mawlana Abed Ali, who heads a questionable human rights group named after SAARC, called “SAARC Human Rights”. Following our reports, the SAARC authorities issued a notice to the Bangladeshi officials, stating their non-affiliation with this group. The SAARC authorities further advised the Bangladesh government to prevent “SAARC Human Rights” from using the ‘SAARC’ moniker, given their lack of official ties.

SAARC Letter against Fraudulant Human Rights Organisation in Bangladesh
SAARC Letter against Fraudulent Human Rights Organisation in Bangladesh

The Potential Repercussions of Shahriar Alam’s Scheme on Bangladesh

Credit for this escalating drama goes to Shahriar Alam, the Junior Minister of External Affairs of Bangladesh. However, the potential aftermath of this dubious charade could be profoundly perilous. As the Biden Administration in the US stipulates ‘free, fair, and credible elections’, and the European Union seeks ‘free, fair, and participatory elections’ in Bangladesh, the prospect of US sanctions looms ominously.

Shahriar Alam, Junion Minister of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh
Shahriar Alam, Junion Minister of Foreign Affairs Bangladesh (Photo Credit: The Hindu)

Nick Powell, the proprietor of the “EU Reporter” blog, contends that elections need not be conducted under a caretaker government. This stance coincides with the sentiments of the ruling Awami League in Bangladesh, which harbors reservations about elections held under the oversight of a caretaker government. Shahriar Alam made this possible by arranging these “International Election Observers” who seem to parrot only the Awami League’s viewpoints.

This leak, the ‘Dhaka Gate’ reveals the conspiracy lurking behind the election’s international portrayal, masked under the term “International Election Observers”. This global plot, designed to placate EU and US demands for ‘free, fair, and credible’ or ‘free, fair, and participatory’ elections in Bangladesh, could endanger Bangladesh-US and Bangladesh-EU relations, potentially culminating in sanctions followed by diplomatic and economic crises.

Alam’s plot risks alienating the Bangladeshi citizenry and could tarnish the progressive image of Sheikh Hasina, the incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh. This single fallacy from Shahriar Alam might cast Bangladesh as one of the most disrespectful nations in the democratic world.

If the Bangladesh government is unaware of this insidious plot, it is incumbent upon them to take swift, serious action to safeguard their international reputation.

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Kiranpreet Kaur
Kiranpreet Kaur
Editor (Policy) at The Eastern Herald. Expert in Political affairs. Hails from Punjab, India.

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