A reporter was briefly detained today for taking a picture of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb as he left the capital under heavy police guard following his first visit to Malé since his detention in October.
The streets around the military hospital Senahiya and the police headquarters were cordoned off for Adeeb’s visit to see an eye specialist.
The former vice president was arrested from the airport on October 24, on a suspicion of links to a mysterious blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat. He was immediately taken to the Dhoonidhoo Island detention facility and has not set foot in Malé since, even for court hearings or medical consultations.
Hussain Hassan, Sun Online’s deputy editor, was taken into custody near the police headquarters at around 10:30am. A spokesman said Hassan was without a press pass inside a restricted zone.
Hassan, also a member of the Maldives Media Council, said he was told he was being arrested for disobeying orders.
“I was taking a picture near jetty number three, and police asked me what I was doing. I said I was a journalist and they asked for my press pass. I said I did not have it with me at the moment and then they arrested me.”
He was released after two hours.
Journalists were clamoring to get a picture of Adeeb today, as social media exploded with speculation of how much weight the rotund former vice president had lost in police custody.
— Mohamed Afsal (@afsal_afey) January 6, 2016
— XefroX (@XefroX) January 6, 2016
Yameen is in Thailand at present.
Although Adeeb was arrested over the blast, he was first charged with corruption over the lease of islands for tourism. The first hearing took place last month at the remand facility via video teleconference without prior announcement.
Adeeb was without legal counsel for the first hearing.
Judge Abdulla Mohamed granted Adeeb 30 days to appoint a lawyer and said the next hearing would take place in Malé.
According to public prosecutors, Adeeb is facing charges of abuse of authority in the lease of 53 properties. Each count carries a four-year jail sentence.
The criminal court is now building a courtroom on Dhoonidhoo so that suspects would not have to be brought to Malé for hearings.
Home Minister Umar Naseer has pledged to complete the boat blast investigation by the end of January. Adeeb continues to be a prime suspect, according to the police. Several soldiers seen to be Adeeb loyalists and several of his associates were also arrested over the explosion.
The government insists it was caused by a bomb targeting Yameen, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was invited to carry out forensic tests, said it found no evidence of an explosive device.