IFJ Calls for Scrapping of "Fabricated Charges" Against Journalists in the Maldives

The International Federation of Journalists today called for the fabricated charges of “terrorism” against journalist and human rights activist Jennifer Latheef to be immediately dropped.

“It is outrageous that journalists are being penalised for doing their job of truth telling and informing the public,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

When rioting broke out in Malé in September 2003, Latheef was making documentaries about social issues and was involved in interviews at various affected locales.

Latheef, who writes for two independent publications, including the daily Minivan, was charged with committing an “act of terrorism” for allegedly throwing stones at a policeman.

The verdict in Latheef’s case was due to be delivered on September 25, but was postponed for the second time. Contradictory official reports of the two co-accused being ill and having escaped were put forth as the reason for the postponement of the verdict.

Latheef faces a 15-year jail term if found guilty.

The IFJ is deeply concerned that in the light of the current case against Latheef, the granting of presidential amnesty and release of journalist Fatimath Nisreen in May this year was just an image-building exercise resulting from sustained international pressure.

“Using provisions of anti-terrorism laws to silence journalists and the arrest of three other journalists over the past three months is a clear indication that President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is reneging on his promises about the restoration of democracy in the Maldives,” said the IFJ President.

“Jennifer Latheef must be immediately released and fabricated charges against her dropped. This should herald a process that will end the repression on political activists and journalists,” said Warren.

Latheef is also the daughter of Mohamed Latheef, leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

For more information please contact Christopher Warren +61 (0) 411 757 668

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries