World

Britain Grants Mohamed Nasheed Refugee Status

The Maldives‘ first democratically elected president was allowed to go to Britain for medical treatment after the government came under international pressure to let him leave.

Former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, reacts during a news conference in central London, Britain January 25, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth/Files

Former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, reacts during a news conference in central London, Britain January 25, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth/Files

Colombo: Britain has granted refugee status to Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives who was jailed in 2015 after a trial that drew international criticism, his lawyer said on Monday.

Nasheed, the Maldives‘ first democratically elected president, was allowed to go to Britain in January for medical treatment after President Abdulla Yameen came under international pressure to let him leave.

Nasheed was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges after illegally ordering the arrest of a judge in a trial that put a spotlight on instability in the Indian Ocean archipelago known as a paradise for wealthy tourists.

“Nasheed has been granted political refugee status in the UK,” Hasan Latheef, Nasheed’s lawyer, told Reuters from the capital, Male.

A British High Commission official in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo said it did not comment on individual asylum cases.

Since his release, Nasheed has called for sanctions against Yameen and his allies for detaining political prisoners, mainly opposition leaders, and for alleged human rights abuses in the Maldives.

Nasheed was ousted in disputed circumstances in 2012 after ordering the arrest of the judge. The UN, the US and human rights groups have said Yameen’s government failed to follow due process and that the case was politically motivated.

Government spokesmen were not immediately available for comment on the British decision.

Yameen, whose half-brother lost power to Nasheed in 2008, has rejected accusations Nasheed’s trial was politically motivated and said the legal process was fair.

In 2009, Nasheed led the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting to grab attention over rising sea levels that threaten his country.

(Reuters)