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Maldives govt warns legal action over 'false' info to Al Jazeera graft documentary

Mohamed Visham
05 September 2016, MVT 13:33
Home minister Azleen Ahmed during the press conference held by the social council at the President’s Office on Sunday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
05 September 2016, MVT 13:33

Maldives government warned to take legal action against anyone found guilty of providing 'false' information to the Al Jazeera documentary on mass corruption and abuse of power in the Maldives.

Created by the Emmy and BAFTA winning Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, the documentary is believed to have been made on the largest embezzlement of state funds in the history of the tiny island nation which has been heavily linked to president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

As the Doha based broadcaster gears up to air the documentary on Wednesday, a teaser of the much anticipated report has been released which shows glimpses of opposition leaders and ex-government officials going on record seemingly against the government.

During a press conference on Sunday, home minister Azleen Ahmed insisted that the government would not allow the opposition to team up with foreigners to tarnish the image of the country.

"If we find that the information given to the documentary is false and violates the laws of this country we will put a stop to it," minister stressed.

An official audit report had revealed that over USD79 million had been embezzled through the state tourism promotion company.

Maldives Media and PR Corporation (MMPRC) had mediated the leasing of over 59 different tourist hotels, resorts and yacht marinas out of which 53 had been leased through an agreement with the tourism ministry.

The funds received by MMPRC was distributed through a private company.

President Yameen is facing intense pressure from a united opposition as it looks to oust him from office and form an interim government.

The Indian Ocean archipelago adopted multi-party democracy in 2008 after three decades of autocratic rule by Yameen’s half brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

But it has been gripped by turmoil since its first democratically-elected leader Mohamed Nasheed was toppled in 2012 in what he claims what was a coup.

Nasheed, whose jailing last year on terror charges has been widely criticised by the West, has since secured political asylum in Britain after travelling there for medical treatment while on prison leave.

The Criminal Court meanwhile has issued warrants for the arrest of Nasheed and former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed who heads the opposition coalition.

Al Jazeera has pushed back the date to air the documentary after a death threat to a member of the unit.

The Doha based broadcaster had originally planned to air the documentary on September 6 but had moved the date to Sunday.

But Mihaaru understands that Al Jazeera has now moved the air date to Wednesday.

The threat was sent to Will Jordon via the Twitter handle ‘DhivehiLashkaru’ claiming to have hired gun men to shoot the reporter.

“On Thursday we were made aware of a specific threat circulated on social media against one of our investigative reporters. We immediately notified Metropolitan police in London who have launched an investigation,” Director of the unit Clayton Swisher had said.

“We similarly call on the Maldivian government to assist with identifying those behind the campaign of intimidation and we urge all parties to keep an open mind ahead of the film broadcast.”

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