Police questioning of Haveeru journalists an attack on free media, claims MJA

The questioning of two Haveeru journalists by police over a report on the alleged blackmail of MPs and other high profile figures through indecent images has been criticised by the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) as a step to suppress free media in the country.

MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said that the action taken by police in questioning Haveeru’s Ahmed Hamdhoon and Ismail Naseer was unprecedented under the current constitution.

The questioning represented a serious challenge in the country to investigative journalism and a denial of rights outlined under Article 28 of the constitution relating to freedom of the press.

Police confirmed that Hamdhoon and Naseer were questioned in relation to reports they had written on the police investigation into the use of false Facebook accounts to coerce hundreds of Maldivians into recording nude videos and pictures of themselves – material that would later be used to blackmail them.

The case has already led to the arrest of 14 people across the country. Hundreds of photos and videos claimed to be taken from a number of fake Facebook profiles were said to have been found by law enforcement officials on hard drives and laptops of the arrested suspects that were then alleged to have been used to blackmail figures from across Maldivian society, including government officials, MPs and senior businessmen.

It was these files and the case surrounding them that formed the basis of an article that Haveeru published on February 22 regarding the possible identity of those involved, which police have said was the basis for the questioning of the two journalists.

A media officer for the Maldives Police Service said they were unable to confirm what sort of questions the journalists were asked and if they may be called in for further questioning at a later date.

However, Ahmed Zahir at the MJA questioned why the police needed to summon the journalists about a story and images already thought to be in the public domain.

“I don’t think this was simply a case of police asking journalists to help them with an enquiry,” he said. “I personally believe it is an attempt to censor and suppress the Maldives media, which has been free.”

Minivan News this week reported that police have said that they would potentially prosecute any figures found to be genuinely featured in the material accrued through the Facebook profiles if they contravened laws.

Police say they have already arrested 14 persons including a minor – reportedly a 17 year old girl – for alleged involvement in acquiring the nude pictures and videos through profiles thought to have used the same image of a young blonde woman wearing sunglasses.

The false profiles – the front for an alleged blackmailing ring that netted incriminating photos of those who signed up – had netted a combined 2500 ‘friends’, most of them Maldivian, making the scope of the blackmail operation potentially massive.

The ring is expected to pose a “security risk” for politicians in the Maldives, according to Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis Ahmed Nazim told Minivan News, but was unlikely to lead to parliamentary censorship in the future on how the internet was used.

Police have not yet confirmed whether any figures thought to be featured in or affected by the Facebook scam may be serving MPs or government figures.


11 thoughts on “Police questioning of Haveeru journalists an attack on free media, claims MJA”

  1. Every journalist working in Maldives right now, (except a few in a couple of websites like Minivan), is in the pay of someone defeated politically by the MDP. Together they are enacting fantastic prevarications, susch as 1)the time the "media" came out against the Police as activists and claimed that the Police attacked the "media" 2)The time they sent in a couple of parents to the Presidents Office while activists created a scene outside, and then cited "media" reports that the Police brutalized parents. In all cases "media" meant one thing: those in the pay of someone defeated by the MDP. When a boss who did not get defeated by the MDP begins a tv or radio or even a newspaper, then only can you refer to journalists in Maldives as independent. Tks.

  2. Haveeru has admitted that their depiction of 'leaders of state exposed nude' article was without having evidence and that their reporting of the 'scandal' was based on hearsay. They don't have the videos. Neither has anyone of the reporters seen the so called sex-acts, online or in a video. They just based their 'scoop' on hearsay, so as to tarnish Politicians, MPs and largely the MDP. This is all part of a grand plan to depict govt leaders as anti-Muslims indulging in cybersex, drinking parties, sex, drugs and rock n roll, the idea being that Mullah Maumoon was a religious scholar par excellence surrounded by other religious scholars who went to Azhar with him. And who do you get at the top now? People largely devoid of a higher education from an Arab or Islamic University. The larger goal being to beguile Maldivians that their Muslim country's leadership should have people with a higher education from an Arab or Islamic University, a formula that had worked for hundreds of years until Maldivians voted for someone not necesaarily the top authority on Religion.(Mr. Thasmeen did a stint at Al Azhar, just to fulfill this perception). In any other country, Haveeru journos should be tried and jailed for the kind of lies they base on the hearsay of their masters. Zahir Hussain, Ahmed Abdulla, Abbas Ibrahim, together with Gasim Ibrahim, Champa brothers, and Sun Travel Shiyam, the so called media moguls all pulled together to continue the status quo of the old regime. Bitter in their defeat, they are pulling together in depicting the government as anti-Islamic cyber-sex addicts.

  3. The biggest headline in 2013 would be "Anti-Islamic cyber-sex addicts win Maldives elections"......... Ha.. ha .. 1!%$#@#%%##...We'd like to see more on the Moa Kulhi front...

  4. Please do leak it to the public.We want see those people.
    Why not!what is the reason behind it.
    Please who ever has it just leak it and it will go around the Maldives like a virus.

    Dont talk oriaan.We all are well familiar with it.Police better to block oriaan sites or porn sites.Do work for it first.Better to have an investigation and find out how to block all porn sites.Whoever is accessible to internet it is too easy to surf through those sites.
    Now we are 100%sure that high levels of government officials are involved and also porn politicians of Maldives too.Once police said that no government official is involved.But after that article from Haveeru has confirmed that government officials and other high raking Maldivians are involved in this dirty game.
    Police should not be empowering government on this matter to confuse the public.Now we are sure that police is trying to hide nature of this matter to the public.
    Having said that i hope that they will not run behind me and keep me in captivity.One of my friend told me that they have it and they are about to leak it to the public.until then just wait.This will be the most quick virus ever discovered in Maldives. Unfortunately we cannot sensor it.Strictly advice to be over 18 years to watch it.outbreak of reality!!!!!

  5. Hirigaa needs to come to his senses and realise that he is not a journalist but a broken pen dribbling nonsense and brining shame to the profession. Hirigaa must be arrested, tried and convicted for the good of journalism.

  6. Abdullah Riyaaz told the thimarafushi people that DRP both Tasmeen and Gayoom had confirmed that they will appoint him as the next Police Commissioner if they are elected. Good luck Riyaaz

  7. The writer does not know the meaning of coerce. The facebook account holders did not coerce any any Maldivian to expose themselves in front of their webcams perfoming sexual acts. They were lured.

    Blackmail is a crime. Exposing through a webcam on the internet is stupidity. Can you trust the people at resposible levels of the state or political parties to lead the country when they are that stupid?

  8. Haveeru report is based on nothing so they can't show any evidence. Just Hamdhoon & Ismail wanted to attack Government by the order of their supreme leader they wrote an article with no concrete proof. This kind of media is cheap and comparable to prostitution. Haveeru and other media should behave like news organizations not a bandit to change government.


Comments are closed.