Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for being the first to provide microloans to some of the poorest people in Bangladesh, was sentenced to six months in prison by a Dhaka court for breaking labor laws.
Yunus, 83, will remain free on bond, according to Abdullah Al Mamun, his attorney. Yunus is the chairman of Grameen Telecom, but a labor inspector discovered that the company's workers had been refused perks including paid time off and welfare deposits. He has refuted the accusations.
The largest telecom provider in Bangladesh, Grameenphone, is owned by the non-profit organization Grameen Telecom, which is a division of Telenor ASA of Norway, to the tune of 34.2%.
According to Amnesty International, Yunus has been the target of over 150 prosecutions since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League took office in 2008. Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, stated in September that the case is "emblemat-ic of the beleaguered state of human rights in Bangladesh, where the authorities have eroded freedoms and bulldozed critics into submission."
Hasina has frequently made public attacks on Yunus. She called him out for "sucking blood from the poor" in 2011. She claimed in 2022 that he attempted to obstruct World Bank financing for the Padma bridge project. Yunus has refuted any involvement in the financing for the bridge project being frozen.
The administration of Ms. Hasina started an examination of the bank's operations in 2011. Yunus's termination as managing director was purportedly due to his noncompliance with government retirement requirements. In 2013, he was also tried for allegedly accepting payments without authorization from the government, including royalties from a book and his Nobel Prize.
The primary opposition party in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, is abstaining from the general election scheduled for January 7.
The party declared that it does not trust Ms. Hasina's administration to conduct an impartial and free election.