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Velezinee hospitalised and released from police custody

The whistleblower was declared an apostate after allegedly blasphemous videos were posted online.



Aishath Velezinee has been admitted at the state-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital after her arrest Tuesday night for “mocking Islam.”

She was released to the care of her family after doctors recommended she needed to be admitted for treatment, police told the press.

Despite her release, police are “continuing legally mandated matters” in relation to her case.

The former member of the judicial watchdog was arrested hours after her return to the Maldives after residing overseas for several years.

The arrest warrant cited charges of obstruction of law enforcement and “causing disregard for Islam” over videos posted online last year. Her remarks were deemed blasphemous and prompted the Islamic ministry to declare her an apostate.

An IGMH official said she was “admitted at the request of police and is receiving treatment.”

According to her lawyer, she was due to be taken to court for extension of her detention before 7:26pm Wednesday night, which would be 24 hours after she was taken into custody.

Her arrest sparked debate and drew condemnation as she was clearly suffering from a mental illness when the videos were posted.

In a statement Wednesday, police confirmed she was arrested on suspicion of “insulting and demeaning Islam” on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. She would be afforded legal rights and provided access to medical treatment if required, police assured.

After photos of Velezinee spotted at the airport circulated on social media Tuesday, several people openly called for her murder as others urged the authorities to provide her with medical care.

The Islamic ministry declared Velezinee an apostate in March last year over the allegedly blasphemous videos. A police summons was issued in May for her to appear for questioning within two weeks. She was living in the Netherlands at the time.

In a policy paper published last April, the Islamic ministry listed apostasy and openly mocking Islam as some of the biggest challenges facing the country and recommended expulsion from Maldivian society, financial penalties, and even a prison sentence.

Islam is the state religion of the Maldives and the constitution states a non-Muslim cannot become a citizen.

According to police, liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed was killed in April last year by a group of radicalised young men who believed he was guilty of insulting Islam.

In the wake of the brutal murder, death threats were openly made against human rights defenders and civil society activists.