AG withdraws from non-cooperation case against Raajje TV

The appeal case concerning the President’s Office’s refusal to cooperate with private broadcaster Raajje TV has been withdrawn by the Attorney General’s (AG) Office.

The office is quoted as saying in local media that the case was withdrawn because it was not the policy of the government to work against any media outlet.

An official from the AG’s office was quoted in online newspaper CNM as saying that the government’s policy was to provide equal opportunity to all media outlets.

On April 14, 2013, the Civil Court ruled in favour of the Maldivian Democratic Party-aligned Raajje TV after the President’s Office had barred the station from the then-President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s press conferences and functions.

The office told parliament’s government oversight committee that Raajje TV was not invited to press conferences as the station did not fit the criteria or standards of reporting set out by the President’s Office.

The policy of the President’s Office was to invite “responsible and experienced” media outlets, which included private broadcasters DhiTV and VTV, state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM), newspapers Haveeru and Miadhu, as well as internet publications Sun Online and Minivan News.

The Civil Court ruling was subsequently appealed at the High Court by the attorney general.

At the time, the Maldives Media Council also asked the prosecutor general to press charges against the President’s Office over what it found to be discriminatory treatment.

Raajje TV’s dispute with the President’s Office followed a similar disagreement with the Maldives Police Service (MPS) in 2012, during which police announced that they had stopped cooperating with the local broadcaster, alleging the station was broadcasting false and slanderous content which had undermined the services credibility of the MPS.

On February 5, 2013, the Civil Court ruled that a decision by the police to cease cooperating with opposition-aligned TV station Raajje TV was unconstitutional.

Raajje TV’s main studios were destroyed last October in a premeditated arson attack carried out by a group of masked men. After the police’s role in the incident was criticised by Reporters Without Borders, the Police Integrity Commission recommended charges be filed against two unnamed officers.

The station has also been the subject of a Supreme Court-ordered investigation into its alleged criticism of the court’s rulings. In December, police requested the Prosecutor General press charges against both the News Head of Raajje Television Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Station Abdulla Yameen Rasheed.