Prosecutors are seeking terror charges against three Maldivian men who were arrested on the Turkey-Syria border in February.
The three are the first to face prosecution for traveling abroad with the intent of joining a terror group under a new anti-terror law.
Ahmed Latheef, Ahmed Suhail Moosa and Munawwar Abdulla could be handed a jail term of between 10 and 20 years.
The opposition claims as many as 200 Maldivians have left the country to fight in the Middle East, which they claim makes the country the highest per capita supplier of jihadis in the world, but the government disputes the figure, with ministers offering estimates ranging from 35 to 100.
The three men charged today were extradited to the Maldives in March by the Turkish authorities.
A spokesman for the prosecutor general’s office said they are seeking a monicon order or a surveillance order against a fourth man who is linked to the three men.
Mohamed Samee is suspected of trying to leave the Maldives for Syria, too.
A monicon order, issued by the High Court, allows the police to tag suspects and intercept their communications. It also allows the police to control suspects’ financial transactions.
The opposition-aligned station Raajje TV reported that the three were arrested while trying to cross a mud ditch dug between border fences as a buffer to prevent illegal crossings.
The group comprised of five Maldivians: only one managed to cross the border. A fourth man, identified as Anas, remains incarcerated in Turkey, Raajje TV said.
The group travelled to Colombo on February 14, and flew to Turkey via Dubai.
At a UN General Assembly debate on Global Counter Terrorism Strategy in February, the Maldives representative touted the anti-terror legislation and the 2014 Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act as “concrete actions [taken] to curb the stem of foreign terrorist fighters.”
In March, OGN Syria interviewed three young Maldivian men fighting with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al-Nusra Front. At least six Maldivians fighting with the Al-Nusra Front are believed to have been killed in battle.