The police took Maldives Independent journalists Hassan Mohamed and Hassan Moosa into “protective custody” on the island of Nilandhoo, Faafu Atoll, on Wednesday night after ruling party supporters threatened them with assault.
Mohamed, 27, and Moosa, 22, were on the island ahead of a state visit to the Maldives by the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is expected to sign a US$10 billion deal to develop the atoll.
They were held overnight and released at 10am on Thursday morning. The police refused to let the pair contact their families or editors, and turned down a request by the Maldives Independent to speak to them on Wednesday night.
“We are extremely disappointed with the police conduct in handling the complaint lodged by our journalists. The police claimed they were held in protective custody but they were treated like suspects,” said Ahmed Naish, acting editor of the Maldives Independent.
“We thank the police for keeping our journalists safe. However, in cases of protective custody, it is essential for the police to maintain communication with family and employers. The Maldives Independent was unable to contact them for nine hours.
“We also urge the police not to take such threats lightly. An investigation must be launched immediately to guarantee freedom of the press.”
The journalists arrived on the capital island of Faafu on Wednesday morning.
Read more at: http://maldivesindependent.com/feature-comment/press-statement-on-protective-custody-for-journalists-in-faafu-atoll-129143
Maldives Independent, March 2, 2017