Jennifer Latheef

Jennifer LatheefProfession: journalist, human rights activist and pro-democracy campaigner.

Date of arrest: 12 August 2005.

Details of arrest: Latheef was among several members of the newly established opposition party the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to be arrested on 12 August 2005 during a peaceful protest in Malé. She has been charged with terrorism offences for ‘instigating violence’ during the 2003 riots and allegedly throwing a stone at a policeman. The only witnesses are police officers. Latheef strongly denies these charges. She was sentenced on 18 October 2005 to ten years’ imprisonment.

Previous political imprisonment/problems: Latheef was arrested on 22 September 2003 for documenting and reporting on the riots in Malé following the murder of Evan Naseem, an inmate in Maafushi prison beaten to death by security personnel on 19 September 2003. She was released in November 2003. Arrested again during a peaceful protest in Malé on 13 August 2004 along with 200 other protestors, and kept 74 days without charge. It is believed that Jennifer Latheef is being persecuted for her writing and because she is the daughter of opposition leader Mohamed Latheef, co-founder of the Maldivian Democratic Party.

Released: August 2006.

Latheef has been pardoned from serving a 10-year prison sentence but has renounced the decision saying that she cannot be pardoned for something she has not done. Latheef has also taken this opportunity to speak on behalf of five others wrongfully handed a similar sentence: Abdullah Alexander (Alec), Ikleel Ibrahim (Ikul), Abdullah Shabir, Ahmed Moosa (Jordan) and Ziya Abbas, whose convictions were based on a single confessional statement.

Latheef explains her rejection of the pardon for the following reason, “Even with a pardon, my freedom of movement has gone. Every time I go to an airport I will have all sorts of problems. I will have to explain to airport officials that I am not a terrorist… and I need to travel to continue my human rights work…I need to clear my name. They could have expunged my record. I was charged for something that I did not do.”

English PEN calls for a lift on all terrorist allegations aimed at Jennifer Latheef.

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