An international rights group has urged the Maldives to stop pressurizing critical media, expressing concern over the closure of an independent news website.

Reporters Without Borders says in a statement that the closure of Channel News Maldives last month will lead to increasing self-censorship by other outlets still daring to criticize the government.

The group said Thursday the editor of the website confirmed that the closure was due to government pressures and not because of financial reasons as claimed earlier by its majority shareholding company.

Maldives is an Indian Ocean archipelago state known for its luxury island resorts. Its government faces heavy criticism for abusing the judiciary for political gain and controlling civil freedoms.

The government spokesman could not be immediately contacted for comment.