A news website called Addu Live operating in the southern Addu City has been hacked and journalists are continuing to receive threats, the paper’s editor has said.
Hassan Zaheen, chief editor, told The Maldives Independent that the site was hacked last week and that threatening phone calls often came from suspects acquitted by the criminal court. Reporters have been receiving threats for more than two months now.
Those behind the threatening calls demanded the removal of articles on corruption of judges and news items critical of the government, he said, noting that the calls came from the same number.
“Our website went down last week after we wrote about the beginning of a presidential impeachment, three hours after we had received a phone call from abroad asking that we either remove the article or our website will be attacked. But because we publish all news only after confirmation from credible sources, we did not remove it,” Zaheen said.
The site is now up and running after a week, he said.
Several journalists have been repeatedly intimidated and threatened with assault over their reporting, he said. Addu Live‘s founder has also been threatened, he added.
The Maldives has plummeted on the Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index during the past four years. In 2014, numerous death threats were sent to journalists, journalist Ahmed Rilwan disappeared, and a machete was buried at the door of the The Maldives Independent office.
While police assured thorough investigations in each case, charges have not been raised against any suspects.
Zaheen said he stopped reporting threats to the police after failure to investigate previous threats.
“No Addu Live journalist will ever back down despite these threats and attacks. We will continue despite such acts to cut off the people’s voice,” Zaheen said.
“One of the reasons we want to continue with our work is because of our fellow colleague, [The Maldives Independent] journalist Ahmed Rilwan, for his sake, and because we want to find out what happened to him.”