Charges against news outlet Vmedia and Mihaaru journalists must be dropped, Reporters Without Borders has said.
The journalists and news outlet are being sued for defamation by Sheikh Nasrulla Musthafa following their coverage of an alleged Hajj scam.
He was arrested in November on suspicion of being involved in a scam that saw four people travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, without arrangements in place for their pilgrimage.
Musthafa demanded MVR 7 million (US$453,500) in damages from each journalist in the dispute resolution hearing held at the Civil Court Tuesday, reports local media. Another hearing is scheduled for next week.
“#RSF expresses solidarity with the #Maldives #VMedia and five journalists from @Mihaarunews who are sued for #defamation after they reported the #truth over a #Hajj scam. Charges must be dropped! #StopIntimidationOfJournalists,” RSF said.
Aside from Vmedia, four Mihaaru journalists are being sued although Musthafa dropped charges against one of them Tuesday.
In an interview with RaajjeTV Monday night, he stated he would drop cases against journalists if asked by individual reporters, and that such a request had been made by one of them.