IFJ Calls for Immediate Release of Two Journalists in the Maldives

The International Federation of Journalists today called for the immediate release of Mohamed Nasheed and Abdullah Saeed, journalists for the opposition publication Minivan Daily.

On October 13, the two journalists were arrested in the capital Malé and transferred to prison in Dhoonidhoo, where they have so far been denied any visits from their lawyers and family members.

Mohamed Nasheed, 29, a political activist and columnist for the Minivan Daily, was accused of taking part in a pro-democracy rally in August. Abdullah Saeed, 42, was accused of drug possession after police claimed they found drugs in his clothing when he was summoned to the police station.

“These fabricated charges are the latest in a string of open attacks by the government on journalists from the Minivan Daily,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren. “President Gayoom allowed the launch of this publication just three months ago, and is already trying to silence it by intimidating its journalists with false charges and jail terms,” said Warren.

The publication originally existed as an online paper (http://minivannews.com) before it was given permission to appear in print in July 2005. However, the printers stopped producing the paper in late August after intense political pressure, and the Minivan daily is now distributed as a photocopied publication.

Jennifer Latheef, photojournalist for the Minivan Daily, is currently on trial after she was charged with “committing an act of terrorism” by throwing stones at a police officer during demonstrations in 2003.

A verdict is expected shortly for Latheef, who faces a 15-year jail term if found guilty. The MinivanDaily has stated that the latest accusations against Nasheed and Saeed are false, and added that five other journalists from the paper are at risk of arrest.

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

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