TVM anchor suspended after tweet alleging state broadcaster bias

A TV anchor with the state broadcaster Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has been suspended following a tweet in which he alleged state run Television Maldives (TVM) was biased in favor of the government in covering recent political unrest.

TVM’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Mohamed Jinah, sent a letter to Ali Shamin on February 23, stating he had been suspended until further notice.

Jinah alleged Shamin had violated MBC staff code of conduct and breached policies on confidentiality. His tweet also undermined public trust in the state broadcaster, the letter said.

Shamin subsequently said he had been punished because of his tweet, but that the majority of his colleagues agreed with his stand.

The tweet came amidst heightened political tension withe the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday and the arrest of former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim on charges of terrorism on February 10.


Police seeks public assistance in locating man who robbed a house and attacked a minor before fleeing

Police have asked for public assistance in locating a person identified as Mohamed Jinah, 27 from the island of Naifaru in Lhaviyani Atoll, who is accused of robbery and attacking a minor.

The police did not disclose further information on the case but said that police will provide security for anyone who can provide information regarding the whereabouts of the person.

Police asked anyone with any information regarding the person to contact police hotline 3322111 or police family and child protection department 9790163 or police emergency hotline 119.


Attacked Raajje TV presenters allege “political motivation” behind assault

Two TV presenters working for private broadcaster ‘Raajje TV’ were assaulted yesterday whilst on the island of Hulhumale’, an attack the station has claimed is politically motivated.

Speaking to Minivan News, Qufthaq Ajeer claimed he and colleague Mohamed Jinah had been assaulted and threatened with sharp weapons on the island as a result of a political TV program they presented together.

‘’We were waiting in Hulhumale yesterday, I went there to get my bike,’’ said Qufthaq. ‘’At about 6:30pm, four men on two motorbikes came and attacked us.’’

Qufthaq said his colleague Jinah was stabbed in the back and he was hit in the eye.

“My colleague suffered a 7 inch-long, 2 inch-deep wound on his back,” he said.

Qufthaq alleged that the attacks were politically motivated.‘’They [the attackers] asked us to stop the TV program,” he claimed

The presenter also noted that a week ago, an unknown caller rang up Raajje TV’s Offices and warned the channel to stop broadcasting their TV program.

‘’We received death threats a week ago and I think this attack is related to the earlier threats,’’ said Qufthaq, who was also a former journalist at private radio station DhiFM.

Raajje TV CEO Ahmed Rafeeq told Minivan News today that the channel was extremely concerned by the attack, which had followed  a number of warnings previously sent to the broadcaster.

‘’We have been receiving several warnings recently and now that they have attacked one of us, the other journalists are scared and mentally affected,’’ Rafeeq said.

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) also condemned the attack on the two presenters, stating that it was against freedom of expression.

The MJA said it believed the attack had been designed to intimidate journalists and to obstruct the freedom of press and expression as guaranteed under the national constitution.

The association also called on authorities to bring the assailants to justice.

Police Spokesperson Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police were presently investigating the case, but no arrests have been made so far.

‘’We questioned both of them and we are trying to identify the assailants,’’ Haneed said. ‘’No arrests have been made so far.’’

Pro-government political parties have previously alleged that Raajje TV was biased and working in favour of former president Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The station has actively covered MDP protests and rallies, and in several cases aired incorrect reports of fatalities which police later cited as a factor in the subsequent and widespread destruction of police property.

However, Raajje TV is not the only private media group to claim to have come under politically motivated attacks of late.

VTV attack

Last month, the offices of private broadcaster Villa Television (VTV) were attacked during confrontations between security forces and alleged anti-government protesters in Male’ on March 19.

VTV was briefly brought off air following the incident – an act claimed by the station’s owner to be tantamount to “terrorism”.  Local media bodies also criticised protesters for allegedly threatening journalists and media personnel covering the clashes.


Police uncover new drug network, seize drugs worth Rf 500,000

The Maldives Police Service’s Drug Enforcement Department (DED) claim to have discovered a new drug network during a special operation conducted last night, and have seized suspected narcotics potentially worth Rf 500, 000 (US$38,910).

Head of DED, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, said the drugs were discovered inside a rented apartment in Male’ and that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the case.

“This is a new drug network we have discovered. The packets we found contained about 427 grams of suspected narcotics,’’ said Jinah. “One of the persons’ fingerprints matches fingerprints on the packets.’’

Jinah said the imported packets did not appear to have been repacked, and police suspected it to be a type of heroin.

“The street value of the seized narcotics would be Rf 500,000,’’ he said.

He declined to reveal the location where the arrests were made, noting only that it was “a place leased for rent” and appealed to landlords to be more careful.

‘’There are more people to be arrested in connection with this case an we are currently looking for them,’’ he said.

He also noted that the four suspects already arrested did not have any police records.