Maldives’ jailed Nasheed “hopeful of political revival”

COLOMBO, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Jailed former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, in Sri Lanka for a two-day stopover before heading to Britain for surgery, is hopeful of a political revival once he returns to the country, his party spokesman said on Tuesday.

Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, is serving a 13-year sentence on terrorism charges for the alleged abduction of a judge after a rapid trial last March which drew international criticism.

He landed in Sri Lanka on Monday along with his legal team and some family members and will leave for Britain on Wednesday, Hamid Abdul Ghaffor, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesman, told Reuters.

"He is physically a bit weak because he was in jail, but psychologically he is in good condition," Ghaffor told Reuters.

"He said he is hopeful of political revival once he returns from the surgery. During his visits to Colombo and London, he is likely to meet a number of exiled party members who have left the country amid pressure by the government."

The United States lauded the temporary release of Nasheed and Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted: "Release of Mohamed Nasheed is step in the right direction; urge more engagement from government of Maldives on democracy, shared challenges."

International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney last week condemned President Abdullah Yameen’s administration and said Nasheed’s case showed that democracy is "dead in the Maldives".

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon on Monday rejected Clooney’s criticism. Defending the Maldives, popular for its pristine beaches, scuba diving and high-end tourism, Maumoon said Clooney had "spun a compelling tale" but it was not true.

Nasheed was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012 for ordering the arrest of a judge. His conviction was condemned by United Nations, the United States and human rights groups as politically motivated.





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