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Caught in the Net: Maldives

Late this summer, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom employed an extraordinary tactic to quell a two-day pro-democracy uprising in his small Indian Ocean nation: He completely cut off Internet access and text messaging via cell phone, apparently to prevent activists from contacting press organizations and others outside the islands. Gayoom has ruled the Maldives since ...

Late this summer, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom employed an extraordinary tactic to quell a two-day pro-democracy uprising in his small Indian Ocean nation: He completely cut off Internet access and text messaging via cell phone, apparently to prevent activists from contacting press organizations and others outside the islands. Gayoom has ruled the Maldives since 1978, and his cabinet said the decision reflected "patience, wisdom, and leadership." Free-speech advocates called the move irresponsible and unprecedented. There was one exception to Gayoom’s Internet ban — his personal Web site remained up and running, with regular updates during the 48-hour affair.

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