Local radio station and online newspaper ”Sun” today apologised to the public, after the Maldives Media Council (MMC)’s head Mohamed Nazeef yesterday sent a letter addressed to Sun Editors Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir and Shinan Ali requesting they do so.
The apology followed the publication of a series of stories in which journalists wrote detailed and lurid accounts of their visit to an illegal massage parlour, and solicited sex from the women.
‘Sun’ issued a press release today stating that it believed the articles were “not written professionally” and that the news organisation assured that it would maintain professionalism in its future writings.
Ali told Minivan News he was “really proud” of the journalists involved and what they had reported.
“As the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has said, this kind of reporting is new to the community and we need to get used to it,” Ali said.
In its press release, Sun said that the objective of the investigation into illegal prostitution conducted in the Maldives was to draw the attention of the concerned authorities and the public over the issue.
Sun also expressed concern that if no measures were taken, prostitution would become widespread as with the drugs that circulated in the Maldives in 1970s.
The MMC has forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General, and Zahir was today summoned to police headquarters for questioning.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said Hiriga was questioned about the articles Sun published regarding illegal prostitution conducted inside some salons and massage centers in Male’.
”Others concerned persons were also summoned,” Shiyam said, declining to disclose further information.
The MMC has claimed that the context and phrasing of the articles published on Sun Online contained phrasing suggesting that the journalists may have engaged in ‘sinful’ activities, and were written in such a way as to encourage these activities.
The MMC claimed the articles violated its media code of ethics, including Article 1 which states that no media should publish anything against the constitution or Islam, and article 9 which stipulates that media should not publish pornography, sex stories, stories that encourage sex or anything that describes such activities.
The articles are now ranked ‘most read’ on Sun Online’s website.