The police summoned main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ali Nizar for questioning over a tweet last night and confiscated his mobile phone.
Nizar was questioned over his reply to a tweet by MP Ali Hussain, who had said that everyone has the right to defend themselves against the unfair use of force by police officers.
The Jumhooree Party MP’s phone was also seized over the tweet and returned a day later.
Nizar’s lawyer Mohamed Fareed told the Maldives Independent that his client is accused both of inciting violence against the security forces and obstructing police duty.
“The charges are basically the same as Ali Hussain’s,” he said, adding that Nizar fully cooperated with the police interrogation.
“He has nothing to hide,” Fareed added.
The police produced a court warrant issued by Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf authorising the police to hold Nizar’s phone for 90 days to collect forensic evidence.
Hussain, an MP with the Jumhooree Party, has meanwhile accused the government of threatening criminal prosecution to challenge both his freedom of expression and right of self-defence against state-sponsored arbitrary and illegal actions.
He explained that the offending tweet was made in reference to section 45 of the penal code, “which codifies the right to self-defence – a right enshrined in the constitution as well as Islamic sharia and law.”
Bari, the chief judge of the criminal court, had also issued a warrant Friday for the arrest of an MDP activist, who was accused conspiring with others and using social media to “foment unrest in society and incite hatred among the public towards the security forces.”
The judge also authorised the police to seize his phone.
On Saturday, the police also confiscated the phones of three shadow cabinet ministers of the Maldives United Opposition after summoning them for questioning over a fund set up to help detainees.
Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Hassan Latheef, and Shidhatha Shareef were accused of obstructing the proper functioning of the state and the enforcement of the rule of law.
Their phones were returned today.