Home Minister Umar Naseer has said that text messages sent under his name last night urging the media to “save the country” from Vice President Ahmed Adeeb were “fake.”
Several journalists received text messages from Naseer that read: “During this critical juncture, I hope the media will properly fulfil its responsibility.”
A second message read: “Consider this a national matter and work to save the country from the vice president. This is my final appeal. Thank you!”
Shortly after the messages went viral on social media, Naseer said in a tweet that the text messages were “fake.”
Please note that a fake message being distributed under my name.
— Umar Naseer (@UmarNaseerPPM) October 6, 2015
Thazmeel Ahmed Samad, the home ministry’s media official, told The Maldives Independent that Naseer condemns the “lowly act”.
The messages were sent “using a software, in an effort to destroy the minister’s reputation,” he said.
The texts followed the arrest of two soldiers and an immigration officer yesterday in connection to a blast on the president’s speedboat last week.
Citing the findings of foreign forensic experts, Mohamed Hussain Shareef, presidential affairs minister, told Reuters that the blast had been an assassination attempt.
Shareef said the two soldiers were “in line of command who had access to the vessel.”
Prior to the arrests, two military bodyguards of Vice President Adeeb were suspended indefinitely. The previous day, the head of the the military’s Special Protection Group (SPG), tasked with protecting the head of state and other state officials, was replaced and transferred to the post of Malé area commander.
President Yameen escaped unhurt after the explosion on the “Finifenma” speedboat on September 28, but First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim suffered minor bone fractures while a presidential aide and bodyguard were also injured.
The president’s office spokesperson meanwhile called a press conference around 1:00am last night to read out a brief statement from a commission of national inquiry tasked with investigating the incident. Muaz showed reporters video footage of the explosion.
Yameen formed the six-member commission comprised of high-ranking military and police officers to investigate the incident. The commission does not include either the head of the police or military and home minister is reportedly its co-chair.
A pro-government online paper meanwhile published a report last night accusing Naseer of trying to frame the vice president over the boat blast.
Anonymous government officials told Vaguthu that FBI investigators had concluded that the explosion was likely caused by an accident. Other sources told Vaguthu that Naseer had told close associates that he would pin the blast on the influential vice president.
The website also claimed that Naseer told several media outlets that Adeeb had said he would assume the presidency before the end of Yameen’s five-year term.
Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror meanwhile carried a story on Tuesday night citing sources who told the newspaper that an explosive device had been planted under the helmsman’s seat inside the boat’s cabin.
“We believe this is not an assassination attempt, but a mere warning to the president. The final investigation report will be handed to the Sri Lankan government today for the onward transmission to the Maldivian government,” the source was quoted as saying.
Credible sources have identified to The Maldives Independent the three soldiers who were arrested as Ahmed Thiham, Moosa Zameer and Mohamed Jawaz. Both have access to the state armoury and Zameer is reportedly an explosives expert.
Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case.