As the media become increasingly daring, the security forces are stepping up their arrests, physical attacks, threats and summoning of journalists. Police chief Adam Zahir and his Star Force have targeted the vigorous opposition paper Minivan. Two of its journalists were sentenced to harsh prison sentences for drug trafficking, after criticising the Star Force.
President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in power since 1978, has always used the police to monitor the media. Police in 2007 arrested scores of journalists working for the privately-owned press. Ahmed Rifah, a photo-reporter on Minivan, was held for ten days for covering an illegal Muslim rally. Police officers in September arrested a reporter on the weekly Sangu, beat him up and then accused of “disobedience”.