The brutal murder of Maldivian blogger Yameen Rasheed this weekend must be investigated to the fullest extent of the law, PEN America said in a statement today.

Rasheed, who ran the satirical political blog The Daily Panic—and was active in the “Free Moyameeha” campaign after his friend, reporter Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, was abducted in 2014—had received several death threats prior to this weekend, which were ignored by the police. He was stabbed 16 times and died on the operating table at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital on Sunday, April 23.

“The Maldives are heading down a dark path when it comes to respect for freedom of expression,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America. “We urge authorities to commit to a full-scale, serious investigation of this blogger’s murder to show a good faith effort to find those responsible and ensure safety for those who express critical or controversial views.”

Rasheed’s death is the latest in a concerning string of events threatening freedom of expression in the Maldives. Since taking office in November 2013, President Abdulla Yameen Abdulla Gayoom and his government have taken strides to consolidate power in many ways, including convicting political opponents such as the ousted former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism-related charges, passing a criminal defamation law in August 2016, and ordering raids of a newspaper’s headquarters on suspicion of a coup plot after the paper’s editor took part in an Al Jazeera documentary alleging corruption on the part of the president and his associates.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT
Sarah Edkins, Director of Communications: sedkins@pen.org, +1 646.779.4830