Male, Feb 10: Two journalists including an Indian national working for a global news agency, who were arrested in the Maldives amid the raging political turmoil, will be deported, the police said.
Indian citizen Money Sharma from Amritsar and India-born British national Atish Ravji Patel, both working for AFP, were in the crisis-hit Indian Ocean atoll nation to cover the state of Emergency, which was declared on February 6 by President Abdulla Yameen.
The pair were picked up on Friday and are now set to be deported as they were “working in the country on a tourist visa in violation of the immigration law.” However, no legal action will be taken against them, the Maldives government said in a press release.
“We would like to note that although they (the two journalists) have been asked to leave the Maldives, no other legal steps shall be taken against them,” the statement said.
“All foreign nationals intending to work in the country should obtain either a business or work visa and this applies to journalists as well,” it said.
The India’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had received information about an Indian national, Money Sharma, working as a journalist, was detained by the Maldivian authorities.
“We have asked our Embassy to get in touch with the local authorities to ascertain more details of the case,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
The archipelago made international headlines after its President Yameen announced a 15-day state of Emergency last Monday and arrested the Supreme Court’s top two judges and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Yameen’s move came in the wake of a ruling by the apex court on February 1 to “release” exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed and other high-profile prisoners.
Nasheed, who has been living in self exile in Sri Lanka for the past few months, had made multiple appeals to India to intervene militarily in the archipelago country, saying that seeking an internal solution to the ongoing crisis could lead to chaos.
Amid the unrest, pro-opposition Maldives broadcaster RaajjeTV said on Friday it was going off the air because of threats from the country’s military that it would close down news outlets that were “threatening national security.”
The TV station said “it did not believe there was a safe environment for its journalists to report freely and independently”.