Gayoom to pursue defamation case against Miadhu, Hashim and Naeem over NYT article

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has confirmed he is pursuing legal action against newspaper Miadhu, after it reported that the New York Times had published a story containing allegations he embezzled US$400 million during his time in government.

Spokesman for Gayoom, Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, confirmed that Gayoom was also building a case against Finance Minister Ali Hashim, who was quoted in the NYT article, and former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem, upon who’s 2009 report the article was largely based, as well as the proprietor and managing editor of Miadhu.

Contrary to earlier reports, Gayoom was not seeking to sue the NYT or the author of the article, Matthew Saltmarsh, Mundhu said.

“I think that’s been misinterpreted, we have no interest in Saltmarsh,” Mundhu said.

“We don’t know him but we’re sure he’s a good journalis, and the NYT is obviously reputed and widely circulated globally,” he said, adding that Gayoom’s response had been to send a letter the NYT editor.

Mundhu noted that according to the NYT article, the journalist Saltmarsh had claimed he attempted to contact Gayoom for his side of the story.

“Mr Gayoom was not in town, but has confirmed he received no calls, either to himself or his secretary,” Mundhu said. “I too was not in town, but my Maldivian mobile was switched on. Mr Saltmarsh says he could not get through, but there was not even an email or a message.”

Mundhu said he did not believe such an article was justified without a right of response, and that Gayoom had written to the NYT editor requesting a right of reply, or a correction.

“This is not the first time we’ve come across issue. We can only ask for the right to respond and the opportunity to put forward our point of view – our letter serves that purpose and there is no need to take Saltmarsh or the NYT to court.”

Mundhu said Gayoom was more concerned with the story being reported in the local media.

“We want to address [the matter of] the ruling party’s engineering of the article for political benefit,” he said.

The foundation of the NYT article was the former Auditor General’s report, he said, “and the Auditor General has been discredited – by the Anti-Corruption Commission, not just us. The report doesn’t stand to scrutiny.”

But he added that comments made by Finance Minister Ali Hashim in the NYT report did not come from the Auditor General’s report – “this US$400 million [alleged embezzlement] is something he’s conjured up in the Haruge (MDP headquarters),” Mundhu said.

“The issue is that whether as a former president or an individual, Mr Gayoom has rights, a family and a reputation to protect.”

Miadhu’s Managing Editor Abdullah ‘Gabbe’ Latheef said he would “be glad to go to court”, and that “already three international journalist associations have offered support and want to send observers to the hearings.”

“Until a court rules that the Auditor General’s report was fabricated, the media has a right to report it – it is a public document. Until then, the media can write about it five times daily if they wish,” he said.

Latheef added that he was looking forward to the opportunity the court case would provide to open the orginal audit reports to public review.

“Then everyone will understand where the US$400 million has come from,” he claimed. “Some people misunderstand the government budget – when you include the private-public companies, such as STELCO, Dhiraagu and MIFCO, US$400 million is nothing.”

Latheef said he believed the local media had done a “responsible job” in reporting the NYT story, “as the NYT is the number one newspaper in the world and is a credible source. There’s no obligation on us to clarify all the facts that the NYT has reported, because it is such a credible source. What about when the Israelis attacked the aid flotilla recently? Should we have gone to Israel to check all the facts for ourselves? No – we have to rely on credible sources, and the NYT is not an anonymous blog.”

“Gayoom is used to attacking people who speak out against him. They used to be taken to jail, now they are taken to court. Maybe one day he will invite them to coffee on the beach,” Latheef said, adding that “there are a lot of diplomats here who are very scared the media will die off because of threats like these.”

Speaking yesterday at the Commonwealth’s media development workshop, Attorney General Husnu Suood acknowledged that if an article was published in the Maldives, even if the source was from abroad, the onus was still on the particular journalist to prove its truth.

“But there are defences available,” Suood noted. “In the regulation on defamation there are certain defences – one is the the defence of truth. In this particular instance, if you are relying on figures given by the government’s Auditor General, then I think that might be a defense.”

Hashim had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.


19 thoughts on “Gayoom to pursue defamation case against Miadhu, Hashim and Naeem over NYT article”

  1. No comments, Qayoom, you seriously need to learn from the past mistakes and understand that you cannot fool everyone all the time..

  2. Why Qayoom is portraying him as Messiah when he has left behind a mess in the modern world. He was incompetent person who thought he was different in gullible Maldives, and reined according to his wish and totally destroyed a decent culture and good people of Maldives by bringing Bedouin culture and made the whole country selfish ignorant and robed the country. How pathetic he is to sue anyone when there are thousand people suffered under this dictator and still suffering because of this maniac

  3. and this government cannot gfool all the people all th etime. If there was evidence, do you think Gayyoom will be sittigg at home. Maldivians have been taken for a ride once, but no more!

  4. ooh oh hurt ha. Did you family, relatives and friends enjoy the luxurious lifestyle with your hard earned money. Can you prove that.

  5. Gayoom knows the present Maldivian judges are his implants and can do anything he wants. This explains why he will not sue NYT who actually published this. In any normal circumstance, it will be the newspaper that published the article who gets sued not the people they interviewed. He knows sueing NYT at a court he does not control will see him exposed for who he really is.

    This also will put a presedence where there cannot be any allegations at all. Eveytime police says they are investigating a person or they annouce they have detained someone we can sue them for defamation.

    By the way, what dignity does Maumoon have to protect? To his followers, he is a god-like figure and cannot do anything wrong by default. For the rest, he has committed just about all hideous crimes a man can commit so what is he trying to achieve? Money...?


    If you're in the mood for some laughs, watch the interview Al Jazeera did with him before the election

  7. Former Nigerian President Sani Abacha was alleged to have looted $5 billion from his country and stashed it away in foreign accounts. Later, $700 million of that was recovered and repatriated back to Nigeria.

    If the Maldivian authorities can return a similar proportion of the $400 million that Gayoom and his cronies are believed to have stolen, then it would be fully worth the trouble to get the money back.

    It should be noted that this is not about vindictive political opponents out to score a political point. Rather, the World Bank and UN believe that the former regime did pilfer from state funds. That is why they are helping the Maldives to recover this money.

    This attempt by Gayoom to discredit the New York Times will not work. I wish he would sue them rather than our public servants/local media who just want our money back!!

    Gayoom is now well and truly established in international opinion as a corrupt dictator on the same footing as Abacha, Mobutu and others. If he didn't want this to be his legacy, he should have been an honest leader when in office.

  8. hahahaha this old man never gives up. i think he ll run for presidency 2013 and might get his thrown hehehehe

  9. Didn't he build a palace that cost the nation millions of dollars?

    Didn't he have 55 cars?

    Didn't he buy a luxury yacht?

    Didn't he make his family and friends rich?

    The answers to above questions are clear.

    We look forward to hearing when you make your case at court against those interviewed by NYT. You will come out naked because you have robbed the state's treasure. NOW TRY TO SUE ME!

  10. People should also know something about this Gabbey Latheef. He earlier busy publishing DRP news latter Hamaroalhi . Why should we pay any respect to these kind of vultures.

  11. Go to bed dude. You are not helping and you sound like a moron. Old, ugly and desperate.

  12. Where were the World Bank and the UN from 1978 November 11 to 2008 November 10?

    Did they not see the grand Theemuge?

    Did they not see the fleet of cars and boats that belonged to Theemuge?

    Did they not see the national budget that spent about 13 million dollars on his household annually during the last 3 years of his rule?

    Where were the MDP affiliated MPs when these budgets were passed in the Majlis?

    And when the country is faced with huge deficits why did not the Majlis pass a reduction in the members own pay package?

    And now why are they so many political appointees in various posts? Is there no comparison between Gayoom spending money on his cronies, family and the in-laws and the present regime spending money on "activists"?

  13. I have studied dictatorships around the world and found that in every single country, dictator and his cronies have looted millions of dollars while they were in power. How can it be different in Maldives? Open your eyes and face the reality

  14. Loa Laariehggaves Jehifakaneh, jehifakuneh, saabahey Gayyey, Barak Ob ves miburuga indhaalaathi.

    Seems Gayyoom is handing over trhe investigation of this case to Anbaree and Ishthafaa .......

    NYT ge "apology" thabakah laigen alivaage ah eba gene oaaaaaaaaa

  15. Is Gayoom going to sue NY Times as well? Or does he not have as much faith in the judiciaries outside of the Maldives?

  16. Gayoom is the biggest thief but I support him.
    I am fed-up of Maumoon this and Maumoon that on every election. 80 now it's 400 million dollars.. But not a single penny is found. Not a single person prosecuted or convicted. This is hilarious and sad at the same time. This Anni government is playing games. What is that presidential commission doing wasting public money???

  17. gayoom should sue the "audit report". maybe then the "audit report" will make corrections on its own and apologise. and i do hope the legal team of gayoom knows what "defamation" law suits are like...

  18. Does the NYT article say that Gayoomm got NAPPIES airfreighted from UK?

  19. when Maumoon wanted to chase Mr. Ilyas Ibrahim, his own brother in law, from Maldives,He did. Maumoon forced Mr. Ilyas to run away from maldivescv Maumoon came to TV and said Mr.Ilyas has run away with 27 luggage full of money and Mr. Ilyas has hijacked a plane at the airport.After just few months same maumoon said Ilyas is not guilty for anything.

    After some times lot of land is bought and registered on Nasrenas's, Gayyooms' wifes and children name.. what a drama.

    FPID 280 million dollars is majority shares brought to gayyom's pocket..still gayyoom is mater faithful??


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