The international legal team representing former President Mohamed Nasheed, now under house arrest on a terrorism charge, are set to visit the Maldives in early September.
Three-month visas for the three heavyweight human rights lawyers, were approved on Monday, weeks after the Maldives refused to issue a work visa for lawyer Jared Genser, the founder of the renowned campaign group for political prisoners Freedom Now
Other members of the team are Amal Clooney, who has advised the UN and is the wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, and Ben Emmerson, a UN rights chief on counter-terrorism and human rights.
The three helped the opposition leader file a petition with the UN working group on arbitrary detention, requesting a judgment declaring Nasheed’s 13-year jail term on terrorism charges arbitrary and illegal.
A ruling is expected in September or October, Nasheed’s office has said.
The lawyers’ visit, expected in the first week of September, will be brief, the office has said.
Nasheed was sentenced over the arrest of a judge during his tenure. The trial was widely criticized for lack of due process, and world leaders including UK Prime Minister David Cameron have called for his release.
Genser was initially denied a business visa upon his arrival in Malé on July 20. Immigration officials first said he required a letter of support from the Supreme Court, and then asked for a letter from the Attorney General’s Office, according to Nasheed’s office.
Genser and Clooney have accompanied Nasheed’s wife, Laila Ali, on visits with Cameron, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and EU parliamentarians as part of the campaign to free him.
The government in the response to the UN insisted judges followed due process in Nasheed’s trial. Omnia Strategy, chaired by Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, was commissioned to write the response.
Nasheed was jailed for five months, and transferred to house arrest amidst negotiations between the government and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). His sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
A presidential pardon was expected on July 23, but the state in an unprecedented announcement said it will appeal Nasheed’s guilty verdict. The process has been slow, and documents have not yet reached the High Court.
The MDP has accused the government of failing to honor a commitment to release Nasheed, saying it had engaged in talks in good faith and backed several government proposals including the impeachment of former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, and two constitutional amendments.