Journalist reports DhiFM to police, claiming management leaked source’s identity

Former DhiFM journalist Qufthag Ajeer has reported the private radio station to police, alleging senior management deliberately leaked the source of his story concerning mistreated employees at the Hulhule’ Island Hotel (HIH).

Ajeel, who recently resigned over the issue,  has sent a letter to Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh requesting a “fair investigation” of the case.

“The Hulhule Island Hotel threatened to take legal action against DhiFM if the source of the report was not revealed,” said Ajeer. “DhiFM then revealed the hidden source to the Hulhule Island Hotel without my knowledge.”

Ajeer alleged that DhiFM management searched through his personal folder at work to obtain the source’s identity before revealing it to HIH without his consent, or that of the source.

Article 28 of the constitution guarantees absolute protection of journalists from being forced to reveal sources: “No person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.”

Such so-called ‘shield laws’ are intended to increase the accountability of businesses, organisations and governments by promoting ‘whistle-blowing’, ensuring protection of sources if a media organisation is taken to court and preventing journalists from being held in contempt of court for refusing to reveal them. They do not protect against the pursuit of defamation cases.

As a consequence of DhiFM’s action, Ajeer said that the Hulhule Island Hotel has now warned the source that he will be dismissed for disclosing the information.

Editor of DhiFM Masoodh Hilmy told Minivan News that Ajeer was “misled”.

“I can confidentially say that no person at DhiFM revealed the source of the article,” said Hilmy. “But the Hulhule Island Hotel did request us to reveal the source and said they take would legal action against us.”

Hilmy said DhiFM replied to the Hulhule Island Hotel saying that the source would only be revealed if the court ordered the news organisation to do so.

“The Hulhule Island Hotel did not threaten us, but demanded an apology claiming the article contained false allegations,” he added.

President of the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) Ahmed Hiriga Zahir, compared the matter to Watergate and told Minivan News that journalists had a responsibility to confide sources with their editors.

However if the institution then revealed the identity of a source to a third party, “I don’t think this is ethical.”

“They should respect sources. Even the constitution guarantees the protection of sources for a journalist.”

Hiriga suggested that some senior journalists and editorial leadership in the country did not have this background in the principles of journalism- “it may be they don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

Ajeer was among six DhiFM journalists who launched a protest outside the media company’s offices yesterday, alleging unfair dismissal and claiming editorial pressure to produce negative coverage of the government.

The Media Council of the Maldives meanwhile issued a statement claiming that the protesting DhiFM journalists were a “serious obstacle” to the press freedom in the country, and that disagreements among reporters about newsroom policy should be resolved internally.

Ajeer pointed out that the Media Council consisted of “two senior DhiFM officials trying to defend DhiFM.”


3 thoughts on “Journalist reports DhiFM to police, claiming management leaked source’s identity”

  1. this is where gpg becomes useful. it's freely available, and all journalists should have a gpg key so that sources like this can communicate with them with encryption. we used gpg quite a lot during the days of golhabo's regime. and we still use it now. google gpg.

  2. "...some senior journalists and editorial leadership in the country did not have this background in the principles of journalism- “it may be they don’t know what they are doing,"

    This is a fact.

    Even more true is those senior journalists and editorial leadership include the President of MJA Hiriga Zahir too.

    The comment by Hiriga on minivannews on Oct 3rd 2010 reads:

    “media organisations have the freedom to decide whether they want to be pro or anti-government.”

    Media can be pro or anti government. But a professional media is never biased in the news they present. Only opinions can be biased.

    Page 3 of a technical publication series by the Centre for Democracy and Governance, Bureau for Global Programs, Field Support and Research, US Agency for International Development, Washington DC says:

    “In some societies, an antagonistic relationship between media and government represents a vital and healthy element of fully functioning democracies. In post-conflict or ethnically homogeneous societies such a conflictual, tension-ridden relationship may not be appropriate, but the role of the press to disseminate information as a way of mediating between the state and all facets of civil society remains critical”

    Not only is there enough conflict in the political and social arena of the Maldives but Maldivians have all sorts of conflict within themselves.

    Maldives is an ethnically homogeneous society.

    But the recent comments about the Maldivian media by Tiare Rath and the statement by the Media Council yesterday reveals the true character of our local media.

  3. Uh, Privacy.... you're talking about PGP, right?

    Ah yes, golhaa's regime. It was fun to kick it in the shins while they were busy dealing with srs outrage.

    If it comes back, I'll be happy to push it into a mass grave like the festering zombie it is.


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