Two journalists – one an Indian and the other British – were arrested in the Maldives on Friday, the local police said. The two men were handed over to immigration officials, who may take action against them for working in the country against immigration rules, police said.
The island nation is currently under a state of emergency, which gives the security forces sweeping powers to arrest people.
The journalists were Money Sharma, a photojournalist from Punjab, and Atish Patel from London, a Maldives MP told Scroll. The journalists reportedly work for AFP news agency. Patel is a British citizen of Indian origin and is the South Asia video correspondent for AFP.
The Ministry of External Affairs said it had asked the Indian Embassy in Maldives to get in touch with the local authorities to ascertain further details in the matter, ANI reported.
The journalists’ arrests come a day after news channel Raajje TV was forced to go off air after the country’s military threatened the media. The Defence Ministry said in a statement that it would take action against those who publish or air content that affects the national security.
The news channel had said its journalists had been harassed, threatened and intimidated in the past week.
The MEA on Friday said, “We note that China said that the Maldives government has the ability to protect security of Chinese personnel and the institutions there. We hope all nations play constructive role in Maldives, instead of the opposite.”
Maldives has been in turmoil since the Supreme Court ordered its government on February 1 to release political prisoners. President Abdulla Yameen’s government defied the order, and instead, on February 5, declared a 15-day state of emergency. Within hours, security forces stormed into the court premises and arrested two judges, including the chief justice.
Several countries have raised concern over the developments, and the United Nations has called it an “all-out assault on democracy”. UN Secretary General António Guterres has urged Maldives to lift the state of emergency “as soon as possible”, and uphold the Constitution and rule of law.