Police have pressed charges against two suspects allegedly involved in the attack on Raajje TV Reporter Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed.
Ahmed Vishaan, 22, of Kerin Light in Male’s Maafanu neighborhood and Hassan Raihaan, 19, of Fehimaa in Male’s Galolhu neighborhood have been “accused of assault in a manner that can cause serious injuries,” Criminal Court Media Official Mohamed Manik told local media yesterday (May 22).
Vishaan was been accused of hitting Aswad with a three foot iron rod in the face and head, while the journalist was on his motorcycle the night February 23, 2013 at around 1:18 am, said Manik.
Raihaan has been accused of “helping Vishaan flee the scene” via motorcycle after the attack on Aswad, he added.
Aswad, a senior reporter for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned television station, was attacked with an iron bar while riding on a motorcycle near the artificial beach area.
He was attacked while he was on his way to see two Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) journalists, who were admitted to hospital after being attacked during opposition-led protests.
Following the attack, Aswad was airlifted to Sri Lanka for emergency surgery. He later recovered and returned to the Maldives, telling local media he was very happy to return to the Maldives and would remain undeterred in his role as a journalist.
The attack on Aswad is one of the most serious assaults on a Maldivian journalist since blogger Hilath Rasheed had his throat slashed in an alleyway in mid-2012.
Rasheed was initially given a five percent chance of survival, but later recovered. He has since fled the country.
The Maldives plummeted to 103rd in the most recent Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index, a fall of 30 places and a return to pre-2008 levels.
“The events that led to the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in February led to violence and threats against journalists in state television and private media outlets regarded as pro-Nasheed by the coup leaders,” RSF observed, in its annual ranking of 179 countries.
“Attacks on press freedom have increased since then. Many journalists have been arrested, assaulted and threatened during anti-government protests. On June 5, the freelance journalist and blogger Ismail “Hilath” Rasheed narrowly survived the first attempted murder of a journalist in the archipelago,” RSF noted in its report.