Male responds to India’s letter on media ‘attacks’

Refrain from publishing false news: govt.

Published - July 02, 2021 09:44 pm IST - COLOMBO

The Maldivian government on Friday urged the country’s media to refrain from publishing “false news and accusations” against resident diplomats, apparently responding to concerns raised by the High Commission of India last week over “malicious” media reports.

In a press release issued on Friday, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said it took note of articles published repeatedly in some local media, levelling “false accusations” at foreign ambassadors, missions and diplomats in the Maldives.

It comes a week after the Indian High Commission sent a letter, dated June 24, to the Ministry, seeking action on persons behind “repeated attacks” in the media on its diplomats, and enhanced security in the wake of such coverage.

While some Maldivians, in their social media posts, termed India’s request as an attack on the country’s media freedom, the Foreign Ministry echoed India’s concerns aired in the letter, and said: “These actions affect the decades long friendly relations Maldives has maintained with friendly nations, and create hatred among the local population towards these friendly nations. This also puts the diplomats’ lives in danger and hinder their diplomatic work.”

The Ministry referenced the host state’s obligations to provide security to resident diplomats under the Vienna convention, which the Indian High Commission had also cited in its letter.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) -- of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, and former President and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed -- which leads the Maldives’s ruling alliance said it was “deeply concerned” over the recent reports in published in local news portal Dhiyares , “expressing disparaging and ill-founded remarks about Indian diplomats in the Maldives.”

Responding in a tweet on Friday, the website’s co-founder Ahmed Azaan said: “I condemn the ruling

@MDPSecretariat’s attempts to curb freedom of speech by its cowardly attempts to bully journalists such as myself into silence. Dhiyares’ reporting of India is based on verified and authentic sources.”

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