The police have confiscated the phones of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s lawyers and placed them under investigation for refusing to disclose the source of information about an alleged plot to assassinate the 35-year-old in custody.
The mobile phones of Mahfooz Saeed and Moosa Siraj were taken Saturday night in connection with an ongoing investigation, the police spokesman said, declining to provide further details.
Mahfooz told the Maldives Independent that they the pair was “accused of inciting fear, obstructing justice and spreading false information for refusing to provide the source of information into the alleged assassination plot.”
Last week, Mahfooz urged the police to “take measures to avoid the occurrence of any such tragic incident” in a letter to Police Commissioner Ahmed Areef.
In response, the police assured Adeeb’s safety in the Dhoonidhoo detention facility and dismissed the assassination plot as a false rumour.
Adeeb was transferred to the police custodial centre in March, reportedly on the instruction of Home Minister Mohamed Azleen. His lawyer at the time denied media reports alleging an attempt to escape from the high-security Maafushi prison.
Both lawyers were meanwhile summoned to the police headquarters twice over the last week. Their phones, SIM cards and memory cards were confiscated for a period of three months starting July 8.
According to the court warrant signed by Judge Ahmed Rasheed, the phones may contain important information about the alleged assassination plot.
In a tweet after emerging from the police headquarters Saturday night, Siraj said he would “remain steadfast in working for the legal rights of Adeeb despite being summoned to the police on multiple occasions.”
Mahfooz previously told the opposition-aligned Raajje TV that a group of police officers loyal to Adeeb had alerted the lawyers about the alleged assassination plot.
“We received some information and requested the police to investigate the matter. But now, they are accusing us of spreading false information instead of conducting a proper investigation,” he said.
He also expressed concern over a leaked audio circulating on social media in which President Abdulla Yameen is heard saying that Adeeb is a criminal who needs to be executed 15 times.
The audio appears to be a conversation between Yameen and PM Mohamed Musthafa, who confirmed its authenticity to Raajje TV.
Musthafa told the station that he had asked MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem about allowing Adeeb to travel overseas for medical treatment. MP Hussain Manik Dhon Manik was also present when Yameen made the statement, he said.
The former vice president has been trying to secure medical leave for the treatment of glaucoma, kidney stones and internal cysts.
His wife Maryam Nashwa previously told the Maldives Independent that the family’s main concern is glaucoma as it can lead to permanent blindness.
“As far as we know, the treatment is not available in Maldives. Adeeb has a persisting kidney problem, he has had kidney stones removed once before. Doctors have also asked to test an internal cyst for cancer,” she said.
The family is especially concerned about the cyst because a sibling had died after the discovery of a cancerous cyst.
“Adeeb’s brother died at 33 years after a cancerous cyst was diagnosed. The cyst was diagnosed at stage three and doctors have asked to do tests. It has been more than a year now,” she said.
But the government has so far declined to authorise a medical leave for Adeeb on the grounds that he might use the opportunity to flee.
Speaking at a press conference in late June, AG Mohamed Anil denied that the authorities have deprived Adeeb of health care and suggested that he could afford to bring specialists from abroad if the required treatment is unavailable in the Maldives.
“Adeeb is a very high flight risk. And if he escapes, the loss to the state will be very high,” he said.
“In what country would a person convicted of trying to kill the head of state be allowed to escape? In what country would someone who embezzled millions of dollars owed to the state be allowed to escape with that money?”
The former vice president is serving a 33-year jail sentence on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism. He was found guilty of masterminding a bomb attack on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat and of plotting to use a firearm during an opposition protest.
In addition to a conviction for the theft of US$5 million from state coffers, Adeeb is also facing prosecution on numerous counts of abuse of authority over the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation – a corruption scandal of unprecedented scale in Maldivian history.