New Delhi: After having been summoned by Maldives police for interrogation, Maldives’ former vice president Ahmed Adeeb has been apprehended by immigration authorities at Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin port, when he was detected as an unregistered passenger on a ship.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs’s spokesperson has said that Adeeb had been found attempting to enter India without valid documents and that he had been denied entry.
“There are designated entry points through which foreigners are allowed entry into India. The entry is facilitated on the basis of appropriate valid travel documents. In the instant case, since he was not entering India through a designated entry point and did not possess the valid document, he has not been permitted entry into India,” the MEA’s statement said.
Hours after MEA clarified that Adeeb was not being allowed inside India, a London-based legal group, Guernica 37, issued a statement claiming to have been instructed by the Maldives’ former VP.
Asserting that Adeeb had been at the risk of becoming a “politically motivated justice system,” the statement states that he has “sought asylum in a safe country, namely India”.
The news about Adeeb’s detection on a tug boat started to trickle out on Thursday afternoon.
Speaking to The Wire earlier, Thoothukudi district superintendent of police, Arun Balagopalan had said that Adeeb was not in the custody of the local police. “We are not directly involved with this,” he said.
He stated that immigration authorities at the port had found, on Thursday morning, that a boat that was only supposed to have nine crew members, “had an extra person”. The senior police officer said that Adeeb remained with the immigration authorities, but added that no case had been filed yet.
Adeeb is an important actor in Maldivian politics, as he is perceived to be critical in the Maldives government’s efforts to trace the overseas assets of former president Abdulla Yameen.
Till late afternoon, the ministry of external affairs had not been informed about the case. In fact, senior Indian and Maldivian diplomats were learning about the “arrest” from media reports.
A video clip on local television channels showed the “arrest” of Adeeb at the port, which included a shot of the red-coloured tug boat Virgo-9 anchored in the distance. A photo of Adeeb after his “arrest” was also being circulated in social media accounts, including by Maldives’ state broadcaster.
އަހުމަދު އަދީބު ހައްޔަރުކޮށްފައިވަނީ އިތުރު 9 މީހުންނާއެކީކަމަށް އިންޑިއާގެ ނޫސްތަކުން ބުނޭ. pic.twitter.com/YmSjRaDZRK
— PSM News (@psmnewsmv) August 1, 2019
Indian officials were surprised to learn of Adeeb’s presence in India, as they were only aware that he had left India after getting medical treatment in Pune.
At his weekly briefing, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said that they were seeking to establish the veracity of the reports about the “arrest” of Adeeb. The Maldivian foreign ministry has also not got any formal notification from India.
After he returned from India, Adeeb was freed from house arrest by the Maldives high court. Earlier in May, his sentence of 33 years on terrorism and corruption charges had been overturned.
Adeeb, who had been very close to Yameen, was accused by him of conspiring in an alleged assassination plot against the then President and his wife.
According to Maldives police, the former vice president had been summoned last week in connection with a corruption case. Adeeb told them that he was on vacation and the meeting was rescheduled for Monday (July 29), but he did not show up even then.
Adeeb had again failed to appear for the postponed appointment on July 31, despite assurances.
Earlier, on his return from India in the first week of July, Adeeb had tweeted that he would never consider fleeing Maldives.
I have been with you in Good times and even through the tough times and I will always be with you. I will face your investigations and I will never run away from responsibilities. No matter what anyone says, I love you Maldives, our beloved and beautiful nation! pic.twitter.com/Xl4iN17JLz
— Ahmed Adeeb (@Ahmed_Adeeb) July 6, 2019
Maldives Police also stated they were working to get Adeeb back to the country and would also conduct investigations against those who abetted his escape.
As per Adeeb’s legal team, he had continued to be in house arrest, as the prosecutor general had lodged an appeal against his acquittal. They claimed that Adeeb had been forced to sign an “agreement” as it was a condition to get medical treatment. However, there was no clarification on what the “agreement” entailed.
“During this period, Adeeb has still been subject to overt political influence, with the Maldivian Security Services seeking to coerce him into signing documents that would amount to a false admission of guilt and put his life and the life of members of his family in danger,” said the statement from Guernica37.
It went to state that there was “a very real and demonstrable risk that his fundamental rights and freedoms will be violated”.
Adeeb’s lawyers urged India to not return him to Maldives and to provide him protection while his claim was under review. “Having claimed asylum, India are reminded that they must consider that claim in accordance with relevant national and international rules, he cannot simply be returned to the Maldives, regardless of any relationship the two states may have”.
The legal representatives also called on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the the UN Human Rights Commission to “act with diligence” and “to ensure that his rights are protected”.
The article has been updated with the statement from Ahmed Adeeb’s legal team.