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Police under fire over Twitter summons for ‘fugitive’ opposition leaders

Exiled former president Nasheed and JP leader Gasim Ibrahim are under investigation for refusing to return to prison after their medical leave expired.



The Maldives Police Service is under fire for tweeting summons for former president Mohamed Nasheed and Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim to appear for questioning next Monday.

The notices posted Tuesday said the “fugitive” opposition leaders are under investigation for refusing to return and serve their prison sentences after their medical leave expired.

Nasheed – who was convicted of terrorism over the military’s “abduction” of a judge and handed 13 years in jail – was allowed to travel for medical treatment in January 2016. He was later granted asylum by the United Kingdom. Gasim secured a special permit to travel to Germany after he was granted furlough in Singapore. 

He was found guilty of attempted bribery in August last year and sentenced to three years in jail.

The social media summons drew criticism with former attorney general Husnu Suood pointing out that police violated Twitter privacy rules by including Nasheed and Gasim’s national identity card number, permanent address and date of birth.

Maldivian users have been reporting the official police account to Twitter.

In June last year, police introduced new rules for issuing summons through social media in cases where it cannot be delivered in person.

Lawyers at the time noted the lack of recognition for electronic documents or electronic signatures in the Maldivian legal system.

The rules came after summons were issued for three liberal bloggers living overseas via press releases posted on Twitter. But police failed to follow through on threats to ask the Prosecutor General’s office to try them in absentia if they refuse to return.

Nasheed meanwhile questioned the authenticity of his summons and directed police to the February 1 order by the Supreme Court’s full bench that quashed his conviction.

The shock ruling was controversially rescinded after the arrest of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed on coup plot charges.

Nasheed’s passport was revoked in September 2016 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Police later sought fresh terrorism charges over the 2010 detention of then-opposition MP Abdulla Yameen.

Last April, the government rejected the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision that Nasheed’s right to run for office must be restored.