RSF calls for retrial of Maldivian journalist jailed for life

Apr.20 (LBO) – The conviction on 19 April of Minivan journalist Abdullah Saeed and his sentence to life imprisonment was engineered by the authorities in order to harm the country’s only opposition newspaper, Reporters Without Borders said Thursday. The international advocacy group for media freedom, called for a new trial by an impartial court and urged President Gayoom to keep his promise to allow more press freedom.

Saeed’s colleagues also maintained that his conviction on charges of drug possession and trafficking had been orchestrated in order to silence a critical journalist.

Saeed was not allowed to testify under oath in court, where he had intended to deny that he was in possession of drugs at the time of his arrest.

The police said they found drugs in his clothes when he went to a police station in response to a summons. The judge also rejected defence requests for other witnesses to take the stand.

The only witnesses in court were the police officers who claimed to have found the drugs.

Saeed’s lawyer nonetheless showed that the charges were trumped up, RSF said. The police found nothing in Saeed’s possession during an initial search.

RSF said the drugs were only “found” by a policeman during a search of hi