Police raided the office of local newspaper the Maldives Independent on Wednesday, hours after the release of Stealing Paradise, an al-Jazeera documentary that details an $80 million scandal allegedly involving Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
The documentary, produced with the help of local journalists, featured an interview with the Maldives Independent editor Zaheena Rasheed alongside representatives of watchdog groups and opposition-party members.
The Maldives Independent reported that it was facing allegations of a “conspiracy to overthrow the elected government.” The offices of a local NGO were also raided and the passport of opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed canceled, reports the Guardian.
The Maldives broadcasting commission released a statement on Wednesday warning that anybody disseminating the documentary’s allegations would be liable for defamation.
Last month, the government issued laws making defamation both a civil and criminal offense. David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of expression, called the move “[a] direct attack on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression in the Maldives.”
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