Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a reporter who disappeared ten days ago, and urges the Maldives authorities to deploy whatever resources are necessary to find him.
Rilwan, 28, has worked for the independent online newspaper Minivan News since December 2013, mainly covering religious issues, politics and the environment. He is also a former member of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.
On 4 August, four days before he went missing, he wrote a story about a threatening SMS received by 15 journalists who cover organized crime. Minivan News says all the evidence points to his having been abducted.
“We are extremely worried by Rilwan’s disappearance and urge the authorities to step up their efforts to find him as quickly as possible,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
“There is every reason to be concerned about Rilwan, especially as gangs and religious extremists are very often responsible for threats to journalists. Ismail Hilath Rasheed, a freelance journalist known for his support for religious tolerance, only narrowly survived a murder attempt in June 2012.”
Surveillance camera footage at a Malé ferry terminal shows Rilwan buying a ticket at around 12:45 a.m. on 8 August and going to the waiting area to take the ferry to the Malé suburb of Hulhumalé. According to Minivan News, witnesses saw a man meeting his description being kidnapped near his Hulhumalé apartment shortly thereafter. He has not been seen since then.
A website and a hotline have been created to help efforts to locate Rilwan. Anyone with information about his disappearance or whereabouts should call the police hotline, +960 332 2111, or the Serious and Organized Crime Department at +960 991 1099.
Maldives is ranked 108th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Photo: Minivan News