Maldives slaps ban on journalists
A court has slapped a two-year ban on journalists who triggered the closure of the Maldives' only newspaper when they resigned en masse and set up an independent online publication over an ownership dispute.
The Civil Court ruled on Sunday that no former employee of the Haveeru Media group could work for any media outlet in the country for the next two years.
The move followed the mass resignation of Haveeru's staff in March after a court ruling forced its founder Mohamed Zahir Hussain to relinquish editorial and administrative control.
Haveeru had been pro-establishment, but had taken a more independent stance in recent years, earning the displeasure of the authorities.
The resignations forced Haveeru to cease publication of both its print and online editions.
The former employees then formed their own online publication called Mihaaru which is now threatened with closure after Sunday's court ruling.
"This is an act of aggression by the state against independent and free media in the Maldives, and is part of a much wider and unprecedented crackdown by the government on media freedom," Ali Naafiz, Mihaaru's assistant editor, told AFP.