British Ambassador slams conviction of local TV journalists

Raajje TV journalists Mohamed Visam (L) and Leevan Ali Nazeer speak to reporters after Criminal Court reads their final verdict. PHOTO: MOHAMED HAMDHOON/MIHAARU

Raajje TV journalists Mohamed Visam (L) and Leevan Ali Nazeer speak to reporters after Criminal Court reads their final verdict. PHOTO: MOHAMED HAMDHOON/MIHAARU

British Ambassador to the Maldives, James Dauris, raised concerns on Wednesday over the verdict passed by the Criminal Court on two journalists of local television channel Raajje TV.

Mohamed Visam and Leevan Ali Nazeer were charged with obstructing Police for attempting to stop policemen from arresting their CEO Hussain Fiyaz, who had been caught trespassing on Maafannu Stadium which the police had closed off in November 2015 to defuse an explosive device discovered near the presidential palace of Muliaage.

The Criminal Court had pronounced them guilty of their charges and fined each journalist MVR 28,800 to be paid within one month.

Criticising the verdict, Ambassador Dauris stated in a tweet that “Conviction and sentencing of @Raajje_tv journalists sends worrying signal of the pressure important #media freedoms are under in #Maldives.”

This is the first case in recent times that criminal charges have been proven against journalists. Previous administrations had not prosecuted journalists following implementation of free media in the new Constitution.

Meanwhile, Visam is facing a second case of obstructing police which is still unclosed. Another journalist of Raajje TV and its CEO Fiyaz are also undergoing criminal trials.

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