Raajje TV to appeal MBC fine, sue police

Raajje TV has plans to appeal the Maldives Broadcasting Commission decision to fine the station, also saying Monday it is suing the police for negligence over a 2013 arson attack that destroyed its studio.

The opposition-aligned station was fined MVR 500,000 ($32,467) for airing comments the broadcasting regulator claimed posed a threat to national security – remarks from opposition MP Mohamed Musthafa of the Thimarafushi constituency on July 28.

Raajje TV condemned the fine in a statement, saying it was politically motivated.

“The commission has yet to draw up guidelines on what content is damaging to national security. The commission president himself has acquiesced to this, where he said the Commission was still compiling the regulations on taking action. Therefore, in the absence of regulations, the actions levied at Raajje TV this year is strongly believed to be politically motivated.”

The seven-member Maldives Broadcasting Commission has previously imposed hefty fines on Raajje TV, including a fine of MVR1 million (US$64,850) for airing a speech deemed defamatory towards President Abdulla Yameen.

In a separate development, the station said it was suing police for negligence. The lawyer for Raajje TV, Mohamed Nishan, told the Maldives Independent the channel was seeking compensation of MVR 11.6 million (US$752,200).

An inquiry by a police watchdog found that staff had asked for police protection when they learned of the imminent attack. But police officers failed to respond. The now-defunct Police Integrity Commission had recommended pressing criminal charges against two policemen.

The Maldives is now ranked 117 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom index, down from 112 the previous year.

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