Concern over restriction of press freedom in Maldives

Karachi: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Abdulla Yameen, President of Maldives, expressed concern over the closing down of Haveeru newspaper and the arrest of 19 journalists during a peaceful demonstration outside the President’s Office in Male.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged the government of Maldives to withdraw all the charges against the journalists, conduct active investigation in the case of Ahmed Rilwan and ensure press freedom in Maldives.

According to International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), local journalists staged a demonstration against the recent crackdown on media freedom including the court-ordered closure of Haveeru newspaper, the proposed criminal defamation law and the protracted investigation into the disappearance of journalist Ahmed Rilwan in 2014.

Police used pepper spray and excessive force to end the demonstration. 19 journalists were arrested and a number of journalists were taken to the hospital due to the injuries sustained. The arrested journalists worked for local media outlets including; Haveeru, the Maldives Independent, Sangu TV, Raajje TV and Villa TV, and were charged of obstructing police duty, disobeying police orders and committing illegal actions. They were released after 10 hours of detention.