The Maldives yesterday cancelled the prison leave granted to jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed to undergo medical treatment in London and said it expected him to return “expediently”.
The 48-year-old former leader was jailed last year on controversial terrorism charges, but was allowed to travel to Britain in January for treatment after he fell ill in jail.
The government initially extended Nasheed’s prison leave to allow him to undergo surgery, but revoked the extension almost immediately, although it has not given him a deadline to return.
“The former president was given an extension to undergo surgery. As his lawyers have confirmed that there is no surgery scheduled, the extension was cancelled,” it said in a
“The government expects he will return expediently.”
Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives in 2008 and served for four years before he was toppled in what he called a coup backed by the military and police.
He was jailed on terrorism charges relating to the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge in 2012, when he was still in power.
The Maldives has suffered prolonged political unrest in recent years, seriously denting its reputation as an upmarket tourist destination.
Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef said his client’s situation had been made clear to the authorities, accusing them of breaching Nasheed’s right to privacy.
Nasheed, whose legal team includes the high-profile human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, told reporters in January that he had not yet decided whether to return to the Maldives to resume his 13-year jail sentence.
He was accorded a red carpet welcome and received by Prime Minister David Cameron after arriving in Britain in January in a deal brokered by the former colonial power along with
Sri Lanka and India.
The legal row over Nasheed’s terrorism conviction has reached the United Nations where a working group has ruled he did not receive a fair trial,
according to The Guardian.
The dispute has also been presented as a battle between Booth Blair, wife of Tony Blair, and Amal Clooney, wife of the Hollywood actor George Clooney, who is one of the lawyers representing Nasheed. Booth now runs Omna Strategy which provides “strategic counsel to governments, corporates and private clients”.
“I have spent a fair amount of my adult life in jail,” Nasheed said. “In my 20s, I was tortured twice. So I have a chronic back problem. I will definitely go to the Maldives, there is no doubt about that. But only the question is how and when,” Nasheed had said.
More than 1,700 people are in jail or facing politically motivated charges, Nasheed added. “It’s easy to topple dictators but not so easy to uproot the remains of a dictatorship.”
President Abdulla Yameen’s regime had witnessed a rising tide of religious extremism, with more than 200 people leaving to join Islamic State. “Per capita, the Maldives sends more fighters than any other country in the world,” Nasheed said.
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