A friend of missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan has asked for police protection after receiving a threatening phone call from a member of parliament, in which he said: “I’ve found you now, you’ll know what happens next, you know what happened to your partner.”
Shamoon ‘Lucas’ Jaleel said he believed MP Ahmed ‘Avista’ Assad of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives on Tuesday was referring to the abduction and disappearance of the Maldives Independent journalist, some 617 days ago.
“I spent all of my free time with Rilwan… Assad’s words are threats full of danger,” he said in a letter to police chief Ahmed Areef.
Lucas has since posted the audio recording online.
Assad, who hurls profanities at Lucas throughout the recording, is heard saying: “I’ve never messed with you, I’ve never said anything at you. I don’t even know who you are, but today I had to find you when I woke up.”
The call was reportedly prompted by Lucas likening Assad to a dog in a Twitter post.
Lucas responded to Assad by pointing out the MP had called for former President Mohamed Nasheed’s murder last year.
Referring to Nasheed by his popular name Anni, Assad says: “I will call for Anni’s murder, even yours, but what can you do? Is Anni your father? Your god? Your mother?
“You dog, you should know who you are talking to. You should know who I am. Even though you are talking to the Dhaandhoo constituency MP, I am not an MP. I am worse than that.”
In his letter to the police, Lucas said he believed Assad knew what had happened to Rilwan and said he was now afraid for his life.
The police confirmed last month that Rilwan was abducted in August 2014. Members of Malé’s Kuda Henveiru gang were involved, the police said.
Speaking to The Maldives Independent, Assad denied threatening Lucas, claiming the recording posted online was edited. He admitted to making a phone call, but only to advice Lucas over the offensive photo.
“I did not threaten him, I only said that Anni should be killed, and so should Lucas. Is that threatening to kill him?”
Assad said that the partner he was referring to was Nasheed, and not Rilwan.
“Whoever he is saying the partner is, it’s not who I meant. I didn’t even know who this Lucas is, I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, I don’t know these people on social media,” Assad said, adding that Lucas was “beneath me” and “lower than a cockroach on the road.”
“He’s a heretic, he doesn’t believe in Islam. He’s trying to use some foreign name because he doesn’t believe in Islam. He put a picture of me with an animal head. That’s a clear sin in the book revealed by Allah. Someone like him, who’s not a Muslim is beneath me.”
When questioned on the language he had used against Lucas, Assad said many other MPs spoke in the same manner.
“What about the things Anni said when he was president? All those anti-Islamic things he said. What about the things other members are saying?”
A police spokesperson meanwhile said they are investigating the call, and said protection can only be provided after conducting an analysis to determine how much of a threat Lucas is facing.
“We cannot disclose to media how long the threat analysis can take,” Ismail Ali said.
Scores of journalists and politicians have reported receiving death threats, but action is rarely taken.
An 18-year-old man, close associate of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, is standing trial for reportedly threatening a PPM council member.