The government has refused to extend former President Mohamed Nasheed’s medical leave in the United Kingdom, and ordered him to return to the Maldives to serve the remainder of his 13-year jail sentence.
A Maldives Correctional Service spokesman told pro-government website Avas that Nasheed’s request for medical leave extension was incomplete.
“Since the documents are incomplete and because we have doubts over their authenticity, we have asked Nasheed to return yesterday [Wednesday],” Hassan Ali said.
Nasheed’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain said Thursday that the MCS had asked for four more documents; a doctor’s letter confirming the need for further medical attention, proof of hospitalisation, an estimate of the time period required for treatment and status of health.
Hisaan said lawyers had already submitted a doctor’s letter with all the required details. “We submitted a letter in English. It may have been rejected because all of the details were contained in one letter. We have informed the MCS that we will submit separate documents.”
Prison doctors had recommended Nasheed undergo a surgery to correct slipped discs in his spine, but lawyers said Nasheed prefers physical therapy over surgery and that a period of six months would be required for recovery. The opposition leader has also indicated that he may not return to the Maldives until he is freed.
President Abdulla Yameen is facing pressure to release Nasheed and other opposition leaders, with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and MEPs of the European Union threatening action over human rights abuses.
Since his arrival in the UK, Nasheed has urged foreign governments to place targeted sanctions on top government officials. He met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, and appeared on CNN, BBC and Channel 4 to talk about his imprisonment and the recruitment of Maldivians by extremist groups.
Criticising Nasheed’s media blitz, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had said that the former president’s “primary goal was to court publicity in the United Kingdom.”
“This is not medical leave, but media leave,” she said.
But Nasheed told the British press that his medical condition is “serious.”
“In my 20s, I was tortured twice by the Gayoom regime. So I have chronic back problem,” he said, referring to long periods in prison during the 30-year reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – Dunya’s father and half-brother of the incumbent president.
Nasheed also said that he intends to the return to the Maldives and challenge Yameen in the 2018 presidential election. But the opposition leader will only be able to contest the election if the Supreme Court overturns his terrorism conviction.
The apex court wrapped up appeal hearings in February, but it is not clear when a verdict will be delivered.