Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Abdulla Yameen, President of Maldives expressed concern over the harassment on ‘Maldives Independent’, an English language daily newspaper.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged the government of Maldives to immediately stop harassing the media and assure the Maldives Independent editor Zaheena Rasheed that she can return to the country without any fear of harassment.
According to Committee to protect journalists (CPJ), broadcaster of Qatar, Al-Jazeera telecasted a documentary entitled ‘Stealing Paradise’ that alleged high-level corruption in the Maldives produced by the former editor in chief, Will Jordan of the Maldives Independent newspaper.
On September 7 afternoon, hours after the documentary was aired, six officials of police raided the office of the newspaper along with a permit warrant to search the site on the suspicion that the newspaper and its staff is involved in a suspected plan to dethrone the elected government by taking external help and trying to create enmity among the citizens and the government and its institutions. While a government spokesperson termed the accusations of Al-Jazeera documentary unjustifiable.
The current editor of the newspaper Zaheena Rasheed, said that she escaped from the country because of fear of harassment from being interviewed in the film. She further added that although the search warrant did not mention the name of specific person or organizations, still the charges of trying to dethrone the government are serious and it’s important to think that what it mean in terms of future action by the government.
The same day of the raid, a state regulator ‘The Maldives Broadcasting Commission’ in a statement said that after the release of the documentary local stations that rebroadcast the accusations of the documentary would be answerable for trial under the defamation laws of the country.