A ruling party MP has threatened to sue Al-Jazeera over an upcoming documentary about alleged corruption and abuse of power by President Abdulla Yameen that has put the government on the defensive.
MP Riyaz Rasheed of the Progressive Party of Maldives threatened to sue the Doha-based broadcaster after an invitation card for the documentary’s premiere began circulating on social media over the weekend.
If Al Jazeera reports are publicised with baseless false accusations against President Yameen, we will sue them ! pic.twitter.com/wJEDPu5NxJ
— Riyaz Rasheed (@riyaz_rasheed) August 21, 2016
The documentary, titled ‘Stealing Paradise,’ by Al-Jazeera’s award-winning investigative unit, is scheduled for release on August 30 at the Royal Society of Arts in London.
“Al Jazeera has uncovered new evidence of corruption, theft and abuse of power,” reads the invitation card.
The imminent release of the expose has caused a stir on social media, rousing anti-government sentiment and prompting MPs and government officials to jump to Yameen’s defence.
Ahmed Nihan, the majority leader of parliament, claimed yesterday that former President Mohamed Nasheed was behind the documentary.
Nihan reportedly said that it is the latest in a series of reports by foreign media that he alleged were paid for by the opposition, referring to India’s The Week magazine in February 2011 alleging Yameen’s involvement in an international money laundering racket.
“We are not too concerned about that,” he told reporters after the PPM parliamentary group held a three-hour meeting with Yameen.
Nasheed, who was granted asylum in the UK last May, said in a Tweet on Saturday that he was invited to the documentary’s opening ceremony.
Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed meanwhile accused the opposition this morning of seeking to halt the country’s development “by making up fictitious allegations against the country.”
Yameen’s supporters have also been trumpeting the current administration’s infrastructure projects on social media, using the pun ‘Steeling Paradise.’
The documentary also comes amid efforts by a broad opposition coalition to remove Yameen from power.
The Maldives United Opposition has repeatedly vowed to arrest the president over the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal.
A damning audit report in February exposed the theft of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion firm. But Yameen categorically denied any wrongdoing, claiming the unprecedented graft did not go higher than his jailed former deputy.
The Al-Jazeera documentary also follows the passage of a widely condemned anti-defamation law this month, which sets hefty fines and jail terms of up to six months for journalists found guilty of slander.