Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Maldivian journalist who is thought to have been abducted in early August.
A criminal court in the Indian Ocean island nation, 508 miles (817 kilometers) southwest of India's southern tip, granted police a motion to extend the detention of the three suspects for five to seven days, the Maldives-based Minivan News site reported Sept. 28.
Ahmed Rilwan, a reporter for Minivan News, went missing in the early morning hours of Aug. 8, four days after he had published a story about threatening SMS messages received by 15 reporters who covered organized crime. Witnesses reported a man being kidnapped at knife point near Rilwan's apartment building in the city of Hulhumalé around 2 a.m. that morning, local news sites and Reporters Without Borders said.
Shortly after his disappearance, a Maldivian human rights group hired a private detective agency to investigate. After Minivan News published an account of the report issued by the investigative firm, which suggested that Rilwan's disappearance was connected to gangs in the island nation, the news site's offices were attacked by a man who stuck a machete in the door and removed a surveillance camera. Minivan News reported that surveillance footage of the attack showed the assailant was a gang leader named in the report.
Since former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's three-decade rule was ended in 2008, the nation of 345,000 has faced rising religious extremism and organized gang activity. Gayoom's successor, Mohammed Nasheed, was ousted in 2012 by protesters loyal to Gayoom. In November, Gayoom's brother, Yaamin Abdul Gayoom won a narrow victory to become president.