Intruders cut cables, stop Maldivian TV broadcast

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said last month that media freedom in Maldives has declined.

Last Updated: Aug 08, 2012, 12:05 PM IST

Colombo: Intruders cut cables and stopped broadcasts at a private television station in Maldives on Tuesday, and the station chairman said he suspected government involvement.

Rajje TV has aired reports critical of the government, and international media rights groups have reported declining freedom in the Indian Ocean island nation since a disputed power transfer earlier this year.

Station chairman Akram Kamaludeen said he suspected parties in the coalition government organised the break-in. Police too have been hostile to the station after it reported police malpractice, Kamaludeen said. They have refused to give protection to journalists representing Rajje TV, he said.

President spokesman Abbas Riza condemned the attack and denied government involvement.

Police were investigating it, he said. "A forensic team has also begun investigation and culprits will be arrested and brought before the justice," Riza said.

He said the Maldives defence force has been providing 24-hour protection to Rajje TV since February but the owners refused to keep the protection on July 08.

Riza said the government is committed to protect media and journalists.

Deputy TV station CEO Abdulla Yamin was quoted as telling an independent website that repairing the damage and resuming broadcasts would take at least two days.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said last month that media freedom in Maldives has declined, with reports of attacks on political and religious dissent. It also said rising religious conservatism in the Muslim country of 300,000 people has caused journalists to practise self-censorship.

Then-vice president Mohammed Waheed Hassan became President in February when Mohamed Nasheed resigned after weeks of public protests and loss of support from the military and police.

Nasheed quickly insisted he was ousted in a coup, and his supporters have protested since then for early elections to be called.

Nasheed, a former political prisoner, was elected in Maldives` first multiparty elections in 2008 following 30 years of autocratic rule.