Maldives TV station shuts down after threats

AP News
Posted: Feb 09, 2018 8:21 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A privately owned television station in the Maldives said Friday it has gone off the air because of threats during the country's current state of emergency.

Rajje TV, which highlights the views of the political opposition, said in a statement that it stopped broadcasting because the country's environment does not allow journalists to report freely and independently. It said a mob had gathered at the station and called for it to be burned down, and government lawmakers had asked the broadcasting regulator to close it.

It said the regulator, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, has been taken over by the military, and police have withdrawn security for the television station despite the threats.

"Given the present circumstances, especially with the curtailing of the right to free media, we have no choice but to suspend our regular services to ensure the safety and security of our station and our staff," the station said.

President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency after the Supreme Court ordered the release and retrial of his jailed political opponents. However, the court reversed its decision after police arrested two of its judges and accused them of accepting bribes to work against the government.

Rajje TV was burned down ahead of the 2013 presidential election. No one has been convicted in the case.

Maldives, known for its expensive tourist resorts, became a multiparty democracy 10 years ago after decades of autocratic rule.

Yameen has rolled back much of the democratic gains since being elected in 2013.