New York, August 19, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the safety of a journalist in the Maldives who has been missing since early August and calls on authorities to thoroughly investigate his disappearance.
Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, reporter for the independent news website Minivan News, was last seen by his family and colleagues on August 7, according to news reports. A Minivan News report citing eyewitnesses said a man dressed in dark clothes was forced into a vehicle at knifepoint outside Rilwan’s apartment at around 2 a.m. on August 8. His family filed a missing persons report on August 13, news reports said.
Rilwan has been critical of local politicians and Islamists, and had recently published a report on death threats against more than a dozen local journalists. The threats, sent via text messages, warned the journalists against reporting on local criminal gangs in the wake of recent street violence. Earlier this year, Rilwan wrote a report on Maldivian militants fighting in Syria.
Minivan News reported that Rilwan had not received any threats in the weeks prior to his disappearance but that security experts told Minivan News that Rilwan was considered a target following the 2012 stabbing of blogger Ismail Rasheed, a secularist who blogged about religious freedom and gay rights.
Police said they were investigating Rilwan’s disappearance.
“We are deeply concerned for the well-being of our colleague Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We urge the authorities to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to find him.”