A newly hired spin doctor for the Maldivian government has been blasted by opposition activists for defending the “biggest rogue” in the country – President Abdulla Yameen – as well as his for previous work with an African dictator.
Celebrated human rights lawyer Jason McCue is a director at Rigel Corporation, which last month issued a press release lauding the number of female police officers in the Maldives.
He became the subject of a Daily Mail article, which said his private advisory firm was providing PR services for Yameen.
McCue has neither commented on the Daily Mail piece nor responded to calls and emails from the Maldives Independent about his work with the Maldivian government.
But the alliance with Yameen has thrust him into the social media spotlight and made him the focus of fevered exchanges in opposition chat groups.
Shafiu Jameel tweeted: “Hi, @JasonMccue is it true that you started defending the Biggest Rogue @PresidentYAG in the Maldives. If this is true wouldn’t it be a joke. Would u mind to click the link below and check how Amnesty Intl ‘s sees the current HR situation in the Maldives.”
McCue has earned plaudits for representing terror attack victims. He has also worked with Equatorial Guinea strongman Teodoro Obiang, bringing a private prosecution against alleged perpetrators of a coup.
The Rigel website features no information, save an email and London address, but McCue is on a well-trodden albeit bumpy path as the Maldivian government has previously enlisted foreign firms to burnish its image.
In September 2015 the Maldivian government hired US lobbying firm Podesta Group to “provide strategic counselling” on improving ties with the US government.
But the deal was cancelled following former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen.
Omnia Strategy, a London-based legal and public relations firm chaired by Cherie Blair, meanwhile came under fire when the Daily Mail alleged that it was paid £210,000 from stolen funds.
Omnia terminated its six-month contract early “following the unpredictable domestic events that occurred in the Maldives in October and November 2015” and is “no longer instructed” by either the government or the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.
The government also hired London-based PR firm BTP Advisers, whose clients have included the governments of Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Azerbaijan.
In July this year, the MMPRC announced it was seeking a PR firm to promote the Maldives but to also “identify positive vs. negative articles and include professional advice on recommended actions to diffuse negative impact to the destination that may arise”.