Reporters Without Borders accused today the Maldivian government of repeatedly manipulating Interpol after ten Sri Lankan police officers raided the Colombo premises of an exile radio station and website, radio Minivan and Minivannews.com, on 28 December in a search for arms that was prompted by baseless claims by the Maldivian authorities.
One of the Maldivian journalists have since fled Sri Lanka and the station has stopped broadcasting for fear of further reprisals.
"The government in Malé has made a regrettable habit of sending reports to Interpol accusing independent Maldivian journalists and media based abroad of criminal activity without any proof," the press freedom organisation said. "This is an intimidatory policy designed to deprive thousands of Maldivians of independent news and information. We call on Interpol to investigate this crude manipulation by Malé."
Opposition journalist Ahmad Didi was arrested in Sri Lanka in 2002 as a result of a wrongful accusation to Interpol that he had a false passport. He is still under house arrest in the Maldives. In 2003, the Maldivian government tried to have journalist Ibrahim Luthfee arrested twice following a complaint to Interpol. And this year, the authorities obtained the extradition of opposition activist Ibrahim Asif from India after falsely accusing him of terrorist activities.
A member of the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that a raid was carried out on radio Minivan and Minivannews.com in Colombo. No weapons were found and the case is now closed. According to several sources, Maldivian police chief Adam Zahir told Interpol weapons were hidden on the premises and accused the staff of preparing to overthrow President Abdul Gayoom's government by force.