Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) Chief Executive Officer Ilyas Ahmed has stated that there is a possibility that persons who send threats via text messages can be identified.
In relation to a recent spate of threatening text messages sent to parliamentarians, journalists, and other individuals, Ilyas stated that the authority is currently investigating the matter to see if the threats were sent via phones or computer software.
“As you know, there are a multitude of mediums via which text messages can be sent now. The ease in which the senders can be identified depends on what medium they have used,” said Ilyas.
Ilyas’ comments come as both journalists and politicians have continued to receive SMS threats in recent weeks, prompting calls for greater state action in finding those responsible.
The CAM CEO explained that if threats are sent via local networks, the perpetrators can be easily identified, while those using foreign networks and computer software will be harder to trace.
“We are monitoring them to see if the messages are sent from a local number. If not, we are also looking into what external network they are utilising,” he said.
He went on to assure that, even in such circumstances, there is a possibility of identifying them if the messages are being sent from within the country.
Ilyas stated that the authority will take action against those sending such messages, adding that it is currently liaising with a number of foreign authorities to find ways to take action in the matter.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed yesterday (August 25) met with local telecom operators Ooredoo, asking for assistance in the authority’s investigation of text message threats.
In addition to this, discussions were also held on how the telecom company can assist the police in the expansion of CCTV coverage and other programmes.
Police media official assured that the police will also be contacting the country’s other telecom operator, Dhiraagu, for assistance in the near future.
Marketing and public relations officials from Ooredoo and Dhiraagu were unable to provide comment at the time of publication.
Vnews editor Adam Haleem was the latest to receive a death threat on Sunday evening, as did Minivan 97 journalist Aishath Aniya last week, while opposition MP Mariya Didi has also made public a recent threat against both her and her family.
Numerous politicians and journalists reported receiving threats earlier this month, with the latter being linked to gang activity, respectively. The threats against journalists were reported by Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, who disappeared on August 8 and is believed abducted.
Following the disappearance of Rilwan’s – known by many as moyameehaa on twitter – the threats sent to politicians and journalists have made clear references to his abduction.
On August 20, Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mariya Didi reported receiving a threat saying, “we will not hesitate to disappear you. Have you forgotten you have a small daughter?”
The same day, journalist Aniya received a message from a sender identified as ‘ISIS’ stating, “You are next on our hit list. Be careful when you walk alone. #fuckmoyameehaa”.
On August 25th, Vnews Editor Adam Haleem received a death threat saying, “If you keep behaving however you like, we will make you disappear, we will behead you. Keep that in mind [expletive]”.
The message was received just days after all media outlets gathered to call for an end to the culture of intimidation, after Rilwan’s abduction. The unprecedented joint statement also called for delays in bringing those responsible to justice.
The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has also released a statement today expressing concern over the increasing number of threatening text messages being sent to journalists.
The statement also highlighted the number of days in which Minivan News journalist Rilwan remains missing, calling on authorities to expedite the case. The MJA further appeals to the authorities to provide timely updates to the media regarding any progress in the investigation.
“Any attack against journalists is nothing but an attempt to eradicate independent journalism. We call on investigating authorities to treat such cases with high priority and to speedily conclude investigations into such matters,” the statement concluded.