The Maldives is facing a disturbing incident of press intimidation and threats, with a business tycoon and political ally of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at the center of it. Ahmed Siyaam, the CEO of Sun Siyaam group, reportedly threatened journalist Ahmed Naaif after his outlet Dhauru News published an article titled “Siyam and Hilton: Red warning to investors” on April 6th, 2023.
According to sources, both Naaif and a senior editor at Dhauru received multiple threats via phone calls and texts, including death threats and warnings to leave the country within five days. The Maldives Journalist Association has strongly condemned the threats and called on authorities to investigate the matter.
The article in question was based on a Singapore arbitration case involving Hilton and Sun Travels. Following its publication, Siyaam allegedly called the senior editor of Dhauru on Friday afternoon, demanding that the article be removed immediately and issuing what was described as a “final warning”. The subsequent threats have left the journalists shaken and concerned for their safety.
Ahmed Siyaam is a partner of the current ruling coalition in the Maldives and a political ally of President Solih. Earlier this year, Siyaam announced his decision to back Solih in his reelection bid. Soon after that the high court of the Maldives recently halted Sun Siyam’s group from paying compensation to Hilton Group, with the ruling reportedly related to issues surrounding a joint venture between the two companies.
The incident has raised concerns about press freedom and safety in the Maldives, and the Maldives Journalist Association has called on authorities to take action to protect journalists and ensure that those responsible for the threats are held accountable. As of now, Dhauru has reported the matter to the Maldives police service, but no further updates have been provided.