17 August 2005


Journalists targeted in crackdown on pro-democracy opposition

Incident details

Ibrahim Rasheed, Jennifer Latheef, Aminath Najeeb, Sirshan Zahir

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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has voiced concern over a wave of press freedom violations in recent weeks in the Maldives, which culminated in the arrests of several journalists and the closure of the only opposition publication. This follows the arrest and detention of Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), on 12 August 2005.

"This crackdown on pro-democracy journalists must stop at once," RSF said. "We call on the Maldivian authorities to release the imprisoned journalists and to put an end to their tyrannical control of the press."

Ibrahim Rasheed, managing director of the state-owned weekly "Adduvas", has been imprisoned since 14 August. In addition, a journalist with the state-owned daily "Aafathif" who was arrested on 1 August is reportedly still being held.

Jennifer Latheef, a young documentary filmmaker and free expression activist, was arrested on 12 August and released the next day. The daughter of exiled pro-democracy journalist Mohamed Latheef, she has been the target of daily threats from the government. Masked police have forced their way into her home on several occasions, insulting and threatening her.

"Minivan News", an opposition online newspaper that had been allowed to produce a print edition in the Maldives since 26 July, has ceased to appear. Under pressure from government-hired thugs, the printing house has refused to work with the newspaper any further. The authorities have also issued a warrant for the arrest of the paper's editor-in-chief, Aminath Najeeb.

Police are also looking for Sirshan Zahir, who often works as a cameraman. He filmed Nasheed's arrest on 12 August. Some 15 masked policemen have forcibly entered and searched his home at around 3:00 a.m. (local time) for the past few days.


Reporters Without Borders
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