Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Maldives 19 August 2006

Despite pardon, Jennifer Latheef should be cleared of terrorism charges

The members of the International Mission for Press Freedom in the Maldives today termed presidential pardon for photojournalist and opposition member Jennifer Latheef as a step towards reinforcing confidence in the reform process, but said it was a "half-measure" all the same.

"This pardon is a step in the right direction but we think it is important that Jennifer Latheef should be cleared of the charges of terrorism," said the five organisations that make up the mission. "This is necessary so that the case can finally be closed. We also call for a fair and transparent review of the cases against Mohamed ’Ani’ Nasheed and Abdulla Saeed."

The director of the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) went to Latheef’s home in Male on August 16th morning to notify her that she had received a pardon from President Abdul Gayoom.

Latheef, who had been under house arrest since 21 December 2005 serving a 10-year prison sentence for terrorism, told the mission she refused to sign the pardon because she is innocent. "I am not a terrorist," she said. "The authorities must clear me and the others who are accused. If I was the mastermind of this terrorist group, why I am free and not them?"

She added that she wondered if the authorities would now impose the six-month prison sentence that is the punishment for disobeying an official order in the Maldives.

The government spokesman yesterday said Latheef was released under "an accord reached in the course of informal talks" between government ministers and leaders of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). He told Minivan News that her objections were just "public relations rhetoric."

Latheef received the 10-year prison sentence on 18 October 2005 for allegedly throwing stones at policemen during a street demonstration in Male on 20 September 2003 that was prompted by the death of a detainee under torture. The stone-throwing was deemed to have been an "act of terrorism." Five other young protesters were also given long jail terms.

Latheef denied throwing any stones and said she was there to gather information about the victims of repression. But the court accepted the prosecution’s claims, which were supported by contradictory statements from police officers. Aged 33, Latheef is the daughter of one of the country’s most prominent opposition leader, who lives in exile in Sri Lanka.

South Asia Press Commission

Article 19

International Media Support

International Federation of Journalists

Reporters Without Borders

In this country
28 October - Maldives
Generally good climate for presidential election marred by public TV’s bias in favour of incumbent
23 January - Maldives
Opposition website’s reporter expelled, banned for two years
5 December - Maldives
Open letter to the Information Minister, Mohamed Nasheed
7 November - Maldives
Government gets tough again in run-up to opposition rally
3 August - Maldives
Authorities urged not to send Abdulla "Fahal" Saeed back to prison

in the annual report
Maldives - Annual report 2008
Maldives - Annual report 2007
Maldives - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised